Priest accused of misconduct with teen faces new charge

Saturday, June 15, 2002

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Roman Catholic priest accused of improperly touching a teen-age boy in Nemaha County, Kan., faces a second charge in Douglas County, Kan., The Kansas City Star reported.

The Rev. Dennis E. Schmitz, 41, of Marysville, Kan., was charged Friday in Douglas County with one count of taking indecent liberties with a minor, a felony. He was freed on $15,000 bond, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Department.

The same charge was filed against Schmitz in Nemaha County, in northeast Kansas, on June 6. Schmitz is free on $50,000 bond in the Nemaha County case.

Both cases involve the same boy, who was about 15 at the time of the alleged abuse, according to authorities and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

Schmitz has referred questions to his lawyer, Stephen Mirakian, who was not available for comment Friday.

Bishop: 'Sad case'

The archdiocese removed Schmitz from his duties last month and announced he faced allegations of possible impropriety.

"We're doing what we need to do on this case," Archbishop James P. Keleher told The Star for a story that appeared on the newspaper's Web site. "But the whole case is very sad."

Keleher was attending the spring meeting of the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops in Dallas, where the sole agenda item is clergy sex abuse. He said the archdiocese has received many calls from parishioners supporting Schmitz. Schmitz's first court appearance in the Douglas County case is scheduled for June 26 at the Douglas County Courthouse in Lawrence. His preliminary hearing in Nemaha County is scheduled for the same day.

If convicted, Schmitz could be sentenced to 2 1/2 to more than 11 years in prison on each count, depending upon prior criminal history.

Schmitz, ordained in 1989, become vocations director for the archdiocese in 1994 and served until last July, when he was assigned as pastor of St. Gregory's in Marysville and St. Malachy's in Beattie.

While he was vocations director Schmitz lived in Lawrence and was in charge of recruiting new seminary students.

He also started the Runnin' Revs, a group of basketball-playing priests who played games against youth teams at schools around the archdiocese.

He made frequent visits to parish schools and spoke at churches about vocations to the priesthood. He also led youth groups on trips, including one to the World Youth Day at the Vatican in 2000.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: