Statement on updated list of credibly accused

By Bishop Shawn McKnight

We want to provide care for those who have been harmed

On November 8 I provided to the people of our Diocese and the public a list of 33 priests and religious brothers who have either been credibly accused or removed from ministry in the Diocese of Jefferson City out of concern for the safety of our youth. Today, I am providing an updated list. With this update, two names are added to those who have been credibly accused of abuse and one name, which is of a priest who was removed from ministry out of safety concerns, has now been determined to be credibly accused of abuse. This update is the result of information we received after our November 8 release and recent action by the Diocesan Review Board.

The three priests are: Don Greene, deceased; Mel Lahr, removed from ministry because of a credible allegation of violation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People; and Robert Duesdieker, whose removal from ministry now results from a credible allegation of violation of the Charter.

These men have been added to the list after our Diocesan Review Board on Dec. 5 made a recommendation that the allegations against them be deemed credible. After considering all the testimony, I concur with the Review Board and deem these allegations credible.I am grateful to the members of the Review Board for their expertise and commitment to our Diocese’s efforts to provide safe, holy and healthy environments for our children, young people and vulnerable adults.

It is important to remember that, while only one on the list has been criminally convicted, the Church holds a much higher standard for those who serve its people holding a sacred trust. The solemn vows we take when we are ordained or enter religious life call us to higher standards of conduct.As of today, there has not ever been a credible accusation of sexual abuse of a minor against any clergy or religious now serving in the Diocese of Jefferson City.

It is with great sorrow that I publish this list. I humbly and sincerely offer my deepest apologies to those who have been abused by clergy and religious. I also offer my condolences to them, their families, friends, and communities.

We want to provide care for those who have been harmed. Today we are publishing what we know. If you have further information about any priest, deacon or religious brother or sister, please contact the appropriate civil authorities. You may also contact our Victims Assistance Coordinator, Nancy Hoey.

Even with these new credibly accused, the most recent case in our Diocese of physical sexual abuse of a minor occurred in 1997. Since then, we have had two credible allegations of violations of the U.S. Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People: one being the inappropriate use of social media; and the other, Internet pornography depicting minors. Although the incidents are in the past, the pain caused is still a present reality for the survivors of abuse and their loved ones. I pray this effort on our part provides some small measure of hope and opens an opportunity for healing to those immediately harmed by sexual abuse.