KANSAS CITY, Kansas — The Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas has substantiated a sexual abuse claim against a priest nearly two decades after clearing him.
The archdiocese announced in a statement published in Friday’s issue of its official newspaper, The Leaven, that it was with “deep sorrow for the suffering of victims and survivors of abuse” that it was reversing what it described as an “inaccurate” determination that Father William Haegelin did not sexually abuse a minor.
Haegelin was placed on leave from St. Ann Church in the Kansas City suburb of Prairie Village, Kansas, in 2002 after the archdiocese received a letter accusing him of the inappropriate sexual relations in the 1980s. A review board determined later that year that there was a sexual relationship but that the accuser was 18 when it began, The Kansas City Star reports.
Haegelin released a statement through his attorney at the time saying he thought the board had conducted a “full and fair investigation.” In 2004, he was laicized, which means he was permanently restricted from the priesthood and returned to private citizenship. He doesn’t have a listed phone number.
The statement said the archdiocese was grateful for the “survivor’s courage and strength” in challenging the original decision but offered no other explanation for the reversal.