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Good News From Nebraska

State AG wants to go through diocesan records on sex abuse

The Nebraska Attorney General’s office has informed three of the state’s Catholic dioceses — including Lincoln — that it wants to see their records going back decades:

In letters sent recently to Omaha Archbishop George Lucas, Lincoln Bishop James Conley and Grand Island Bishop Joseph Hanefeldt, Attorney General Doug Peterson is asking for 30 years’ worth of records. Specifically, Peterson is asking for diocesan investigations of claims of sexual exploitation, including incidents of child pornography or “sexual communication with another person given authority by the diocese to carry out church functions.”

Lucas is to direct records to Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine, whose office has three attorneys dedicated to investigating sex crimes against children.

Douglas County — the most populous in the state — is one of 23 counties in the Omaha Archdiocese, which encompasses northeast Nebraska.

The letter is dated Thursday and notes that since Aug. 16, when Peterson issued a formal request for victims of sexual abuse to come forward that “we have received a number of reports which have warranted further investigation.”

Lancaster County Attorney Pat Condon said his office will review records to “see what’s there and if there’s prosecutable crimes there, follow whatever investigation would need to be done to try those in court.” If his office doesn’t see a crime, “we would return those to the diocese and then they can take whatever actions they want with it.”

Finally, the Catholics of the Lincoln diocese stand a decent chance of learning what its officials knew about Monsignor Leonard Kalin, as well as Father James Benton.

I want to point out that if it had not been for Peter Mitchell coming forward on this blog, and Stan Schulte doing the same, and others who asked to be anonymous, but who helped me in the earlier reporting, this might not have happened. I know both Mitchell and Schulte have had to take a lot of grief from some in Lincoln over what they did, but I firmly believe that they have served the cause of truth and justice, and in so doing have served the Church.

UPDATE: A reader says the request is actually for 40 years of records. Another reader rightly praises former seminarian Wan Wei Hsien for coming forward on Facebook to tell what Monsignor Kalin did to him. That really was a key moment. Wan was apparently widely liked and admired when he was at the university’s Newman Center. That he testified to having been a victim of the sainted monsignor made it credible to a lot of folks who would have been inclined to dismiss it.

Still another reader points out that the New Mexico state AG has put in a similar request. 



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