Bishop Joseph Hart is admittedly an 87-year old “on oxygen,” and true, he left Kansas City 42 years ago, and yes, “the allegations involve incidents from decades ago,” and, to be sure, “a 2002 criminal investigation into allegations against Hart was dropped,” but still, the Kansas City Star thought his story worthy of a Sunday morning front page headline only slightly smaller than the ones the paper ran for Pearl Harbor or 9-11.
The reason for the excitement in the Star newsroom is that Wyoming, the state to which Hart decamped some 42 years ago, has no statute of limitations on criminal cases. The new bishop, the Rev. Steven Biegler, was not satisfied the State of Wyoming had done a thorough job when it dropped charges against Hart 16 years ago, and he is working to get the case re-opened.
Hart, gushed Star reporter Judy Thomas, “could become the first Roman Catholic bishop in the country to be prosecuted for sexual abuse of a minor.” Pop the champagne corks!
Meanwhile, closer to home, the public school establishment has no equivalent of the scrupulous Rev. Biegler. It has no assigned reporter in the Javert-like mold of the Catholicphobe Judy Thomas. What it does have, as a result, is a relentless string of sordid cases right here in the Kansas-Missouri region.
When, for instance, Justin Adrian, until last month an Olathe East High School teacher and Democratic city councilman from Shawnee, was arrested for performing oral sex on a male student in the classroom, he became the third Olathe high school teacher this calendar year to run afoul of the law on sex charges.
The media, the Star especially, have shown no interest in following up. The Star obviously has distinct standards for Catholic and public schools. Last year, there were six cases in the North Kansas City School District within a 13-month period, and the NKC school superintendent never even got his name in the paper, let alone in a headline. The Olathe superintendent did not get his name in the paper either.
Given the Star’s indifference to the frequent, often grotesque sex abuse cases within area public schools, there is no explanation for what the Star has been doing to the Catholic Church other than sheer, anti-Catholic bigotry.