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KBI Handles Inquiry Into Allegations of Sexual Abuse By Priest

May 4, 2002 | The Kansas City Star Allegations of sexual impropriety against the Rev. Dennis Schmitz have been turned over to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, authorities said Friday.

"We just received a request to take the case," said KBI spokesman Kyle Smith. "There are multiple jurisdictions involved, so we're going to contact the agencies that have jurisdiction and confirm their willingness to have us work it."

Smith said he could not discuss where the abuse allegedly occurred or the age of the alleged victim, who is a minor.

The allegations against Schmitz were revealed Thursday in a statement issued by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. The allegations involved "issues of possible sexual impropriety," Archbishop James P. Keleher said.

Keleher said that church officials had reported the matter to the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services and that Schmitz had been placed on indefinite leave. The archdiocese revealed no other details.

Earlier Friday, Shawnee police Capt. Larry Larimore said the department had handed over allegations against Schmitz to his agency on Thursday.

"Our investigators did a real quick initial investigation and found out that none of the occurrences happened in Shawnee," Larimore said. "The father was in a parish here in Shawnee for a time, so it came here first. So the case is going to be referred to the KBI."

In the 1990s, Schmitz was pastor of churches in Johnson County and Lawrence.

Schmitz, 41, has referred questions to his attorney, Stephen Mirakian, who did not return phone calls Friday.

Until Thursday, Schmitz had been pastor of St. Gregory's parish in Marysville, Kan., and St. Malachy's parish in Beattie, Kan. From 1994 until July 2001 he was in charge of recruiting new priests for the archdiocese.

Some former parishioners said the allegations could not be true.

"No way," said John T.R. Gorman. He said Schmitz baptized his daughter nearly 10 years ago at Queen of the Holy Rosary parish in Overland Park. "He's not that type of person. He's a dynamic priest. Powerful. Engaging. Cheerful. And full of the grace of the Lord."

Terri and Mike Dunn said Schmitz was their priest at St. Ann's parish in Prairie Village and was chaplain at Bishop Miege High School, which their children attended.

"He was a frequent visitor at our home and attended their graduation and Christmas parties," the Dunns said in an e-mail. "He is not only a religious inspiration but a very close friend of our family. It is simply not possible that the allegations be true."

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