Educating To End Abuse

My Press Conference 12/05

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Press Release
Abusive Kansas Priest Quietly Worked Here Until Four Months Ago

His Female Victim Was Assaulted in 2004 & Got Substantial Settlement in 2005
Parishioners in Both Dioceses Were Deceived About Transfer
Cleric Is Still In Ministry Now & Was Just Honored by KS Bishop
SNAP To Leaflet Hill Neighborhood Reaching Out To Others

Clergy sex abuse victims will hand out leaflets door-to-door warning residents that for seven months this year an abusive priest from Kansas lived and worked at the local Catholic church. Parishioners both here and in Kansas were deceived about why he moved, and were not told about his 2004 assault on a parishioner nor about the substantial financial settlement against him reached just four months ago.

TODAY, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 1:15 p.m.

Starting at St. Ambrose Catholic Church (771-1228), 5130 Wilson Street on the Hill in south St. Louis

Several men and women who were sexually abused by clerics and who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, including the group’s national director

In the summer of 2004, Fr. Nicholas Voelker of the Wichita diocese twice sexually assaulted a parishioner, Peggy Warren, of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Wichita, KS. In August 2004, to protect herself, Warren received a 'Protection From Abuse' Order against Voelker from the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Department.

After reporting Voelker’s crimes to Wichita Catholic officials, the priest was sent to St. Ambrose Catholic church in St. Louis where he worked and lived for seven months (Jan. 2005-July 2005). Voelker’s Kansas parishioners were told he was sent to St. Louis for health reasons. Voelker’s St. Louis parishioners were told he was here to go to school. But Wichita church officials allegedly sent the cleric here for "treatment" because of the sexual assaults.

In June 2005, Warren received a substantial settlement from church authorities because of the assault, Shewas represented by attorneys Denis Ventriglia (910-256-0040) and Mike Hepperly (316-267-5330).

She also reported the crimes to Detective Scott Wiswell (316-268-4156) of the Wichita police. Next week, he is scheduled to discuss the potential criminal case with the local prosecutor.

In August, Voelker was promoted to pastor at St. Rose parish. Last month, Wichita’s Bishop went to St. Rose to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the parish and Priesthood Sunday with Voelker and included Voelker’s picture and article in the diocesan newspaper.

SNAP's leaflets urge neighbors and Catholics to ask friends and family if any of them may have been hurt by Voelker. If so, witnesses and victims are being urged to contact the police.

A similar news conference is being held at roughly the same time in Wichita.

This is the second time in a week questions have been raised about an allegedly abusive priest who was sent to St. Louis from elsewhere. In the other case, Fr. Joseph R. Monahan worked in a south city parish until just two months ago when a Philadelphia grand jury report named him as an accused molester. He remained in active ministry for almost 3.5 years despite the accusation, which was never made public until September, when the grand jury published its lengthy and scathing report on the archdiocesan cover up.

The group will have a photo of the priest, copies of the settlement agreement and protective order.

David Clohessy 566 9790, Barb Dorris 862 7688
Peggy Warren of Wichita KS 316-993-4675
Janet Patterson of Conway Springs, KS - SNAP National Board Member 620-456-2330; 316-772-6537


My Statement

I'm speaking  today because I would not want any family to go through the hell my family has been through the past year and a half.

Fr. Nicholas Voelker targeted, groomed and ultimately sexually assaulted me twice in 2004.  After the first assault Voelker begged for my forgiveness and swore it would never happen again.  I made the mistake of believing my priest.

Hearing other women so courageously speak of their traumatice experiences of sexual assalt by clergy are what has gotten me through this difficult time and is what has given me the courage to speak today.

There are 4x's more adults than children that are victimized by clergy.  Of course children must be everyone's first priority but the church can not ignore the adults that are being victimized.

Adults must be aware of the grooming signs - the compliments, the extra attention, the hugs and kisses.  I fell for it all - hook, line and sinker.  It all seemed innocent at first but it is so far from innocent.

After the second assault, Fr. Voelker told me, "I think I am taking us both straight to hell."  I was not going to let that happen so I told the church.

I believed my beloved Catholic Church would do the right thing.  But unfortunately it did not and that is what has brought me to this point of speaking out.

Priests and lay people must speak up and let it be known that kid of behavior by clergy is unacceptable.

Fr. Voelker told me that he had hurt others so deeply that he knew he would be paying for it for the rest of his life and in the life to come.

I would urge anyone that has been hurt by Fr. Voelker to contact Janet, myself or the Women's Crisis Center.  You are not alone and there is help.

December 16, 2005

Priest Accused


Rachel Phillips

Priest AccusedA local priest accused of sexual abuse will not be charged, but the woman making the accusations is sticking with her story.

In a press conference today, District Attorney Nola Foulston says the state will not be filing any charges against the priest, believing the alleged incidents were consensual. This comes after a review of the case by the Wichita Police Department and the District Attorney's office. Foulston says the actions in this case are not considered abuse in Kansas or any other state.

Peggy Warren says the alleged touching happened on two different occasions: once in Wichita and once in Missouri. She tells KAKE News she's shocked by the D.A.'s decision. She admits she and the priest were fully clothed at the time of the alleged incidents, but says things went much furthur than kissing, claiming he rubbed his privates on her stomach. A board member of a victim's support group that works with Warren released a statement today saying she too was disappointed in the D.A.'s decision. The statements reads: "I'm also hopeful that others who have been hurt by him or witnessed abuse by him will find the courage to come forward. Not being charged and not being guilty are two different things."

Posted by kshaw at December 16, 2005 11:25 PM

News clip

Woman claims priest assaulted her

WICHITA, Kansas -- A Wichita woman is coming forward claiming a Catholic priest assaulted her but the church reports that the relationship was consensual.

Reports of Catholic priests abusing children have been widespread in recent years but this alleged victim claims clergy victimize four times more adults then children and she’s speaking out for the other victims.

Peggy Warren claims she was sexually assaulted twice last summer by Father Nicholas Voelker.

"After the first assault, Voelker begged for my forgiveness and swore it would never happen again. I made the mistake of believing my priest," said Warren.

At the time, Voelker was a priest at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish. Since that time, he has been moved to St. Louis parish of Waterloo and is now at St. Rose of Lima parish in Council Grove.

Bishop Michael Jackels sees a different story.

"This was not a case of clergy sexual abuse rather it was a relationship between priest and an adult woman which was both inappropriate and sinful, but nevertheless consensual."

Warren does have a protection order against the priest and she and the church reached a settlement of a little more than $15,000. That legal paper work states the settlement is not an admission of guilt. Bishop Jackels said the church owed her nothing but paid the money out of charity for her to use for counseling.

On Tuesday, Warren and others presented the bishop with a letter demanding Father Voelkers removal from the church.

Bishop Jackels said Voelkers is not a danger to anyone.

"I would not knowingly allow a priest to continue in ministry if he were to pose a risk to anyone."

Warren said a Wichita police detective plans to talk to the district attorney next week about possible criminal charges. The detective said he cannot comment on the case.

Bishop Jackels said, if criminal charges are brought forward, the priest will be temporarily removed from ministry until his guilt or innocence can be proved.

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, National Director of SNAP

For Immediate Release: December 16, 2005

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests


We feel deep sorrow for Voelker’s victims yet hopeful that the truth will someday surface and that others assaulted by him will overcome their fears and contact prosecutors. We are grateful that Wichita Catholics, at least now know about this potentially dangerous priest.

It is inherently abusive when a priest engages in sexual misconduct against a parishioner. Like doctors and patients, like therapists and clients, an enormous imbalance of power exists between priests and Catholics. We are taught since birth that priests are God's representatives on earth and can forgive our sins and thus allow us to get into heaven. It's always wrong and harmful for a priest to force or initiate any kind of sexual contact or abuse against a parishioner.


Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis,

National Director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

David ClohessyThe lesson we can learn today is summed up in three sad words: Basically nothing's changed.

Once again, a priest betrays the trust of an innocent person.
Once again, that victim contacts church officials who keep it secret.
Once again, an abusive priest from out of state is sent here to St. Louis.
Once again, no one here is warned.
Once again, families here are at risk.
Once again, Catholics are lied to - both here and in Kansas.
Once again, a secret settlement is paid.
Once again, the truth surfaces only because of a brave victim.
Once again, it falls to us, the wounded, to inform and safeguard others.

This particular priest sexually assaulted an adult parishioner twice. Our hearts ache for her and for her family. Young, old, middle aged - it doesn't matter. Sexual assault is wrong and harmful and illegal and likely to be repeated.

Thank God she had the strength to fight him off.
Thank God she had the courage to report him.
Thank God she got legal representation.
Thank God she got a settlement.
Thank God she's pursuing criminal charges.
Thank God she reached out and got help.
Thank God she's going public today.

If not for her persistence and courage, no one in the St. Louis archdiocese or the Wichita diocese would know anything about this potentially dangerous man.

If someone in the St. Ambrose community was abused by Fr. Voelker, we desperately hope that she will follow Peggy's brave lead, come forward, and get the help she needs and deserves. If someone in the St. Ambrose community witnessed abuse by Fr. Voelker, we desperately hope that he or she will follow Peggy's brave lead and contact law enforcement.

Finally, we hope that everyone in the St. Ambrose community follows Peggy's brave lead and contacts Catholic officials and expresses their outrage at the reckless, deceptive mishandling of Fr. Voelker's case.