Bishop covered up for a priest who was the "perfect pedophile"

December 5, 2002
By Rick Ross

Bishop John Steinbock testified in a California courtroom during March of this year that he waited three years before taking action, despite the confession of priest Donald Kimball in 1987, that he had repeatedly molested teenage girls.

Only after Kimball ultimately admitted molesting at least six teenagers in 1990 did the bishop remove the priest from youth ministry.

He admitted, "I asked him specifically how many girls he had touched under the age of 18. He said six," Steinbock testified. "I was a little upset because I had understood it was only two, and now it went up to six." he bishops testimony was given during a criminal trial.

The case against Kimball, much like others involving Catholic priests, involves crimes done years ago, but still within the statute of limitations because they involve children.

Kimball, 58, was once a popular priest, but was charged with raping a 14- year-old girl in 1977. He also was charged with two counts of lewd conduct with a 13-year-old girl in 1981.

Five other women also testified that the priest molested them too when they were teenagers.

Michael Poirier, a former parishioner who eventually reported the priests misconduct to Bishop Steinbock said the priest offered to apologize to his victims, but wanted him to provide a list of names

Eventually, Kimball gave Poirier a list instead, but he did not include everyone he had abused. Poirier realized then that the list of the priest's victims was larger.

Poirier told Kimball he would go to the bishop. Kimball seemed to threaten the man when he said, "If you go to the bishop, someone very close to you is going to be hurt," Poirier said. He then responded, 'Is that a threat?' And Kimball said, 'No, just a fact.' "

Poirier then reported the priest to the bishop.

Steinbock, bishop of the Fresno Diocese, testified that he interviewed Kimball. The priest admitted his sexual misconduct, but said that he had gone to therapy and repented. The bishop accepted this. But as the list of victims grew Kimball's story kept changing.

Eventually when Steinbock confronted Kimball again, the priest admitted having sexual contact with six minor girls, but claimed this did not include intercourse.

Finally the bishop refused to accept Kimball's stories. He then ordered the priest to leave his youth ministry, though he never reported anything to the police. The bishop was concerned there might be "a public scandal."

Steinbock later offered the predatory priest a position within the San Francisco Archdiocese, excluding any work with youth.

After hearing Bishop Steinbock's testimony one lawyer concluded, "My take is that he was always more concerned about himself and his church than God's children."

The prosecutor described Kimball as "The perfect pedophile. He was clever and smooth, and that's why there were so many victims and why they kept quiet for so many years."

Note: This article is largely based upon "Bishop delayed disciplining priest Santa Rosa cleric acted 3 years after learning girls were molested," San Francisco Chronicle, March 21, 2002 By Peter Fimrite

Copyright © 2002 Rick Ross.

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