Priest arrested in suburban St. Louis for alleged sexual abuse

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Associated Press WriterST. LOUIS (AP) -- Police in St. Louis County have arrested a priest accused of sexually abusing a minor, church officials said Thursday.

The Rev. Bryan Kuchar was arrested Wednesday night, the Archdiocese of St. Louis said. He is believed to be the only current priest in the Archdiocese of St. Louis or in Missouri to be taken into police custody for abuse allegations since the nationwide abuse scandal began in January.

When asked about Kuchar, St. Louis County police spokesman Rick Eckhard said he can't comment on any case unless a warrant is issued.

A telephone message with the county prosecutor Robert McCulloch's office was not immediately returned Thursday.

In a prepared statement Thursday, Archbishop Justin Rigali said Kuchar's arrest followed an allegation last week of sexual abuse of a minor.

"This came as a devastating shock," Rigali said. "There has been, until now, no such allegation against Father Kuchar. ... While awaiting the disposition of this case, there is nothing further I can say except to encourage Father Kuchar's continued cooperation with the authorities."

Rigali also repeated what has become a mantra of late, "that the safety and protection of our children is our highest priority."

"I repeat my abhorrence of the reprehensible evil of sexual abuse and my determination to do everything possible to put an end to it," Rigali said.

Kuchar has been a part-time associate pastor at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. He also is the associate director of the Office of Vocations for the archdiocese, according to the archdiocese Web site. That office's functions include talking to young men and encouraging them to consider attending seminaries and joining the priesthood.

Since January, dozens of Catholic priests out of more than 47,000 nationwide have been suspended or forced to resign on suspicion of sexually abusing minors, in a scandal that began in Boston.

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