The Kansas Bureau of Investigation announced Tuesday it has initiated an investigation into reports of sexual abuse by clergy at the four Catholic dioceses of Kansas.
The agency is asking victims to step forward with information about abuse inflicted by clergy members, church employees or church volunteers.
Last month, the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas released the names of 22 clergy members who have substantiated claims of sexual abuse involving a minor. An advocacy group, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the list is incomplete.
SNAP member David Clohessy said he was grateful for the KBI efforts, and he encouraged witnesses and whistle-blowers to report abuse, as well.
"It's very tough for abuse victims to trust authority figures, especially victims who've been assaulted by clergy and betrayed by bishops," Clohessy said. "Still, we join the KBI in begging anyone who may have suffered, seen or suspected abuse or coverups to step forward. Children are depending on us to help safeguard them by exposing those who commit and conceal these heinous crimes."
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, writing in the archdiocese's publication last month, thanked those who have come forward with allegations "in order to prevent someone else from being victimized, as well as to assist with the progress of their own healing process."
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt asked the KBI in November to look into abuse after a grand jury report on six dioceses in Pennsylvania found more than 1,000 child victims. Priests used the threat of eternal damnation to rape children, the Associated Press reported.
The KBI formed a task force of six special agents to review information associated with the dioceses in Kansas. In addition to the archdiocese in Kansas City, the church has dioceses in Wichita, Salina and Dodge City.
The task force will work with local authorities to determine whether cases merit prosecution.
Victims are encouraged to call (800) KS-CRIME or email ClergyAbuse@kbi.ks.gov.
"The KBI asks victims to report all incidents of abuse, no matter how long ago they occurred, and even if they were previously reported to law enforcement or the church," the agency said.