ENNIS

Four Catholic priests formerly of the Saint John Nepomucene Church in Ennis have been identified for the alleged sexual abuse of minors as far back as 1950, according to a recently released report from the Catholic Diocese of Dallas.

The report was made public last week alongside 14 other Texas dioceses to address sexually predatory behavior within the Catholic Church. Dallas Diocese Bishop Edward Burns said in a letter that the effort began during a prayer service in October last year, where Diocese leaders prayed and acknowledged the sexual misconduct that was taken place inside the church.

The report, he explains, begins a process that he hopes leads to healing and repentance.

“Our failure to protect our most vulnerable from abuse, and hold accountable those who preyed on them, fills me with both sorrow and shame,” Burns stated. “But the painful yet necessary process… has also led to much-needed reforms that we continue to rigorously implement today. Going forward, we must remain vigilant.”

THE REPORT

Burns explained that a group of former state and federal law enforcement officers began to compile the list of 31 names in October. Investigators reviewed files of 2,424 priests who have served in the Catholic Diocese of Dallas since 1950.

After credible allegations were identified, the records were sent to the Diocesan Review Board, which included local experts in law enforcement and psychological practice.

Burns clarified that an allegation against a priest was labeled credible after the Board reviewed the available evidence and determines there was reason enough to believe the claim as true. A credible accusation, he said, is not an automatic admission of guilt.

“Inclusion on this list does not indicate that a priest is guilty of, been convicted of, or has admitted to the alleged abuse,” Burns stated. “As I look to the future, I am encouraged that an overwhelming majority of the priests in this Diocese are, and have been, good and holy men.”

According to the report, 31 priests from the Diocese of Dallas have been credibly accused with sexually abusing minors throughout their assignments, with four of them named in to have once served at Saint John Nepomucene Church specifically.

One Ennis resident, Jesse, said he attended Saint John’s on-and-off again over the past several years. He’s always heard rumors, but he never knew whether to believe them or not.

Now that the report has been made public, he’s had second thoughts about going back to worship.

“We got my boy in Sunday school,” Jesse remarked. “Now that I heard this, I don’t know if I want to keep him there or not.”

THE FIRST PRIEST

One of the most infamous names known around town is father Rudolph “Rudy” Kos, who served in the Diocese from 1981 to 1992.

According to The Dallas Morning News, the Diocese was informed around 1986 about concerns regarding Kos’ behavior towards young children. Court records show that he often had young boys spend the night with him, and a therapist told officials in 1992 that Kos was a “classic textbook pedophile.”

However, then-Bishop Charles Grahmann testified in court that he did not read the record and allowed Kos to continue working in the church. A letter states that as many as 20 boys stayed with Kos throughout his service.

“My cousin’s son was an altar boy at the time,” Ennis resident Henry Schwindt to the Daily Light. “Her son went to my cousin and said ‘Hey mom, can I go over to Father Rudy’s house? He’s got all kinds of neat video games and stuff.’ My aunt, a devout Catholic, looked right at her and said ‘Don’t you dare let him go over to that house.’ I guess there was always this overtone in the Church.”

Kos was removed from the church in 1992 and was formally charged and convicted on three counts of aggravated sexual assault in 1998. The Diocese paid a settlement of $23.4 million to eight former altar boys and the family of a ninth who said all were molested by Kos. Kos was sentenced to life in prison, a sentence he is still serving to this day.

Ennis resident Bobby Santos said he and his siblings went to Saint John's regularly while Kos was at the church. When word came out about Kos’ sexual abuse, Santos left the church in 1997.

“I was born and raised Catholic here,” Santos remarked. “I’m glad nothing ever happened to us.”

For the over two decades, residents believed Kos to be the only one accused of sexual abuse within the walls of Saint John Nepomucene.

Unfortunately, he was not.

THE OTHERS

The Diocese report named three other priests who previously served Saint John Nepomucene Church in Ennis and were credibly accused of sexual abuse, including Robert Peebles, Jose Saldana and Raymond “John” Scott.

Peebles served in the Diocese from 1977 until his retirement in 1986, while Saldana served from 1951-1978 and Scott served from 1948 to his retirement in 2000.

According to Diocese records, Saldana is still alive, whereas Peebles and Scott passed away in 2004 and 2012, respectively. While these three priests were credibly accused, the report did not give specific details on their accusations or clarify whether their alleged abuse took place inside Saint John’s or at another church.

Schwindt stated that since the report came out, seeing Saint John’s from across his street has been an ungainly sight for him.

“I’ve been a little bit disillusioned by it as of late,” Schwindt remarked. “It is kind of amazing that this whole thing kind of got blown open from Father Rudy. Now more and more Catholic Priests were accused of this. It’s concerning.”

Santos said it’s terrible to see all of these revelations come out, but he’s satisfied that the Diocese is taking the reported allegations seriously.

“I’m so glad they’re naming them,” Santos said. “I’ve got a little boy. I wouldn’t want nothing happening to him.”

Even though the report has been made public, the Diocese is still taking steps to report any further abuse that has gone on inside the Catholic Church.

If you or somebody else suspect a priest or employee engaging in inappropriate sexual misconduct, call the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400 and visit www.cathdal.org/response for more information.