Advertisement

Archive for Sunday, January 22, 2006

Kline would classify defrocked priest as sexual predator

Attorney general must first overcome plea agreement

January 22, 2006

Advertisement

— Kansas Atty. Gen. Phill Kline wants to see a defrocked Roman Catholic priest committed for treatment as a sexual predator after he completes his prison term in March.

But Kline must first prove that he is not restricted by a plea agreement under which Robert Larson admitted in 2001 to sexually abusing four young men.

The agreement, which was signed by then-Harvey County Atty. Matt Treaster and Larson's defense attorney, says the state will not seek Larson's confinement under the Violent Predator Act.

Kline said the power to make such an agreement "rests in my office," not that of a county attorney.

"We are going to file notice with the court," Kline said. "We intend to have him classified as a predator and confined in Larned," where the Kansas Sexual Predator Treatment Program is located.

Dan Monnat, Larson's defense lawyer, said that would be a mistake. He said the psychologist who evaluated his client does not consider him a threat.

The state "would be breaking the promise it made to Larson to get him to give up his constitutional right to a jury trial to now seek his commitment as a sex predator," he said.

"Robert Larson was not a sexual predator at the time the state of Kansas made its written promise not to claim he was," Monnat said. "He is not a sexual predator now. The state must honor its written agreements and the facts."

Larson, now 76, served in the Diocese of Wichita for 30 years before being removed in 1998 under allegations of misconduct.

In August 2000, several men told The Wichita Eagle that Larson had molested them during a pattern of behavior that spanned several decades at several parishes.

Several men who saw the story contacted authorities, prompting a criminal investigation.

The statute of limitations prevented Sedgwick County authorities from pressing charges against Larson, but Harvey County charged Larson with sexually abusing three altar boys and a teenager.

The abuse occurred while he was pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Newton in the 1980s.

"I consider him a predator," Kline said of Larson, "and we're doing all we can to keep him off the streets."

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.