Former Catholic monk tells The Kansas City Star he abused teens

Friday, June 24, 2011 | 7:17 p.m. CDT

KANSAS CITY — A former monk who is a central figure in a sexual abuse lawsuit filed against a Benedictine monastery told a Missouri newspaper he had inappropriate sexual contact with several members of a boys choir in the 1980s.

"Frankly, those allegations, most of them are true," Bede Parry told The Kansas City Star for a story printed Friday.

Parry, 69, led the Abbey Boy Choir of Conception Abbey from 1982 to 1987. He said he had sexual contact with five or six choir members. Most were over 18, but two were between 16 and 18 years old, he said.

"As far as I'm concerned, great harm was done to those people," he told the newspaper in an interview from Las Vegas, where he now lives. "To lie and not recognize that would be a gross injustice to those folks."

A Missouri man sued the abbey Thursday in Nodaway County Circuit Court in Missouri, claiming officials covered up the sexual abuse in the 1980s. Parry was mentioned frequently in the lawsuit but not named as a defendant.

The lawsuit claims Parry molested the man — identified as John Doe 181 — in 1987 when the man was attending a summer camp at Conception Abbey.

"The whole thing is terrible," Parry said. "I feel so terrible. I'm just praying for everybody, and I ask for prayers."

It wasn't clear whether Parry's admission would trigger a criminal investigation. An assistant to Nodaway County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rice said he was in court on Friday and might not be able to return messages.

Jeff Anderson, a Minnesota attorney who represents the plaintiff, told the newspaper the abbot and top officials knew Parry had a history of abuse but decided to protect themselves and put the students at risk.

Conception Abbey spokeswoman Jenny Huard said she was aware of Parry's comments, but the abbey had no comment beyond, "We are praying for all involved."

Conception Abbey is home to Conception Seminary College, one of the nation's largest Catholic seminaries. The college is run by the abbey's monks.

According to the lawsuit, Parry lived at the abbey from 1973 through 1979 and then spent three years at a theological school in Minnesota, where he allegedly had sex with a St. John's University student in 1981. He returned to Conception Abbey in 1982 with various responsibilities.

Parry told the newspaper he had three inappropriate relationships between 1973 and 1979 at Conception Abbey and the one in Minnesota. He said he reported those incidents to then-Abbot Jerome Hanus at Conception Abbey and to the abbot at St. John's Abbey in Minnesota.

St. John's Abbey spokesman Brother Paul Richards said abbey officials were just learning about the allegations. He had no other comment.

The lawsuit says the plaintiff told his parents by telephone about the incident with Parry the day after it happened.

Itsays when the parents confronted the then-abbot, he told them the monk had suffered a "mental breakdown" for which he would receive treatment. Parry was sent to a Catholic treatment center in New Mexico for three months after the plaintiff's 1987 report. He later worked at several churches in the Southwest before becoming an Episcopal clergyman.

The newspaper reported that for the past 11 years, Parry has worked at All Saints Episcopal Church in Las Vegas, most recently holding the positions of organist, choir master and assisting priest. He resigned Thursday and told the newspaper he also asked to be removed from the priesthood.

Bishop Dan Edwards, of the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada, told the newspaper Parry had resigned from All Saints. Edwards said Parry did not have contact with children or youth in his ministry at All Saints.

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