In December 2018, Diocese of Little Rock Bishop Anthony Taylor released the names of 12 Arkansas priests “for whom allegations of sexual abuse of a minor have been admitted, substantiated or determined or considered to be credible.”
The next year, Taylor revised that list of Arkansas priests, adding even more new names.
Soon, however, we can expect to see even more child molesting clerics who are or were in Arkansas publicly exposed.
Why? Because the legislature there has become the latest to give victims of horrific child sex crimes more chances to reveal wrongdoing and seek justice through the civil courts.
Of course, abuse occurs in and is concealed in other denominations too, not just Catholicism. Especially in conservative southern states like Arkansas, Protestant or non-denominational ‘mega-churches’ are common. And they often operate even more secretively than Catholic institutions do, often with even fewer ‘checks and balances,’ since many times, they call or consider themselves ‘independent’ and therefore don’t answer to any kind of hierarchy. Some of the largest Arkansas ‘mega-churches’ are here: http://hirr.hartsem.edu/cgi-bin/mega/db.pl?db=default&uid=default&view_records=1&ID=*&sb=4&State=AR.
We are grateful that lawmakers in Arkansas have joined the growing ranks of secular officials who recognize that if kids are to be safer from abuse, the justice system must be opened up to more victims and more adults who commit and conceal abuse must be exposed.
At the same time, however, let us never forget that many clerics sexually attack vulnerable ADULT congregants. One such alleged predator is Fr. Charles U. Kanu, who reportedly assaulted a counselee at St. Peter the Fisherman parish in Mountain Home for 18 months, using “sensitive” information about her which he learned in both confession and therapy sessions, to “manipulate and exploit her into complying with his sexual demands,” according to a civil lawsuit.
He urged the victim to divorce her husband, was later transferred to a parish in Helena, Arkansas, yet kept up his abusive behavior and reportedly “sexually exploited other women before, during, and after the time he sexually abused” this victim.
Fr, Kanu allegedly victimized her in Searcy at a Nigerian priest-friend’s rectory and another time in Brinkley, where another Nigerian priest, Father Athanasius Okeiyi, was pastor.
In January 2011, Little Rock Catholic officials released a statement calling Fr. Kanu’s actions “non-criminal professional misconduct” but omitted the word “sexual” and in no way indicated that he was accused of sexually exploited or victimized a woman.
The support group SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called that statement “vague and disingenuous, particularly since Arkansas law suggests that what Kanu did was criminal.”
Fr. Kanu was ordained in 1992 and also worked at parishes in Helena, Marianna, Tontitown, Huntsville and North Little Rock. He is believed to have fled to his native Nigeria.
(Bishop Taylor’s initial list of credibly accused child molesters included Donald Althoff, Joseph Correnti, Robert A. Dagwell, Nicholas Fuhrmann, Paul Haas, John J. McDaniel, Anthony McKay, Edward Mooney, Timothy Sugrue, Robert A. Torres, Patrick J. Walsh and Francis A. Zimmer, also spelled Zimmerer.)
(His 2019 additions included Thomas Behnke, Daniel DeDominicis, Patrick Hannon, Thomas Hentrich, Adelbert “Del” Holmes, Kevin McCarthy, Anthony McKay, Bede Mitchell, Jeremy Myers, Patrick J. L. Nicholson, Walter Rajmund, Aloysius Schwellenbach, Vance Zebulon Thorne and William Wright.)
(For more information about abuse and cover up in Arkansas, see BishopAccountability.org)
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims of sexual abuse by Arkansas priests in the Diocese of Little Rock. Our lawyers are now offering free legal consultations to discuss a potential lawsuit and your other options as a survivor of sexual abuse by priests and other employees of the Little Rock Diocese. Your chance to pursue legal action will soon be over. Most victims of abuse will never be able to recover damages if they miss the temporary window to file a lawsuit, so please contact us to discuss your case today. Call us at 888-283-9922 or send an e-mail to [email protected].