Archive for Thursday, June 13, 2002

Kansas priest appears in court

Douglas County D.A. won’t say if she’ll also file charges here

June 13, 2002

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A Catholic priest under investigation in Douglas County will have a hearing June 26 in Nemaha County to determine if he will be tried on a charge of indecent liberties with a child.

The Rev. Dennis Schmitz, 41, Marysville, appeared Wednesday in Nemaha County District Court where he waived the formal reading of the charge.

A week ago Schmitz turned himself in to Nemaha authorities after County Atty. Brad Lippert filed the felony charge, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

For more than a week, Douglas County Dist. Atty. Christine Kenney has been reviewing information the Kansas Bureau of Investigation provided her about Schmitz, who once lived in Lawrence.

So far, no charges have been filed here. Kenney has declined to say when a decision might be made, and when contacted Wednesday she declined to comment about the case.

After Schmitz was arrested in Nemaha County, Archbishop James P. Keleher, of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, said he anticipated charges being filed in Douglas County.

Schmitz lived in Lawrence from the mid-1990s until July 2001 and was the archdiocese's vocation director, identifying and recruiting candidates for the Catholic seminary.

Schmitz lived across the street from St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center near Kansas University. Center officials said Schmitz did not work at the center.

Schmitz now lives in Marysville in Marshall County. Sheriff Kenneth Coggins said Wednesday that he didn't know anything about a possible warrant from Douglas County.

According to the charges in Nemaha County, Schmitz is accused of fondling a 15-year-old child between Jan. 1 and Aug. 1, 1999. The alleged incident occurred at S&S; Ranch northwest of Seneca.

Nearly a year ago Schmitz became pastor of St. Gregory in Marysville and St. Malachy in Beattie. He was removed from those positions earlier this spring by Keleher after accusations of misconduct were raised.

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