Law firm releases full report on OKC Archdiocese clergy abuse dating back to 1960

KOCO 5 ABC News, Oklahoma/October 3, 2019

Oklahoma City — An Oklahoma City law firm on Thursday released a 77-page report detailing its investigation on clergy abuse in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.

McAfee & Taft, which was retained by the Archdiocese, released a report regarding its independent investigation into how the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City handled and responded to allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests dating back to the 1960s, officials said.

Officials at the law firm said as part of their independent investigation, they reviewed about 545 Archdiocese priest files for all active, extern and deceased priests who were active from 1960 forward.

The report then identifies 11 priests who faced substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors between 1960 and 2018.

The priests have been identified as:

  • Father Thomas Behnke, O.C.D.
  • Father David Armstead Cowden
  • Father Stephen Cude
  • Father Mathias Faue
  • David B. Imming
  • Father Francis Albert Mantica
  • Father James Mickus
  • Father Rocco Perone
  • Father Edward Prather
  • James Francis Rapp
  • Benjamin Zoeller

The Archdiocese received a letter in August, 2018 from a former Oklahoma resident claiming that he had been abused by a priest in the archdiocese in the 1980s, officials said. The letter claims that the former Oklahoma resident was abused by now-former priest Ben Zoeller in 1985.

After receiving the letter, officials with the Archdiocese ordered a review of Zoeller's file and an independent investigation.

“As detailed in the report, some of the key findings of our investigation were the Archdiocese conducted inconsistent and inadequate investigations into past allegations of sexual abuse of minors, failed to follow its own policies and procedures in some instances, and had inadequate recordkeeping policies and systems that made it difficult to make informed decisions,” said Ronald T. Shinn Jr., the attorney who led the investigation.

According to the law firm, the report includes several recommendations, some of which the Archdiocese has already implemented. The recommendations include:

  • Engaging a qualified independent investigator to review allegations of sexual abuse of minors and report to the Archdiocesan Review Board
  • Taking steps to improve record-keeping regarding allegations of abuse
  • Implementing a written record retention policy and acquiring a more robust record-keeping system
  • Publicly reporting the findings and actions of the Archdiocese when it makes decisions relating to allegations of sexual abuse of minors
  • Clarifying that all Archdiocesan personnel should immediately report any concerns about the sexual abuse of minors

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