Courts & Crime

New accusation of sex abuse against Kansas City priest

KANSAS CITY — A lawsuit was filed Friday against a former Kansas City priest who in recent years has been accused of sexual abuse by nearly two dozen plaintiffs in other civil suits.

The latest lawsuit, filed in Jackson County Circuit Court, alleges that Thomas Reardon sexually abused the plaintiff repeatedly beginning in the late 1960s, when the plaintiff was in middle school in the St. Elizabeth Parish.

It also names as defendants the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese, Bishop Robert Finn and the Rev. Thomas J. O’Brien, a retired priest who also has been the subject of numerous sexual abuse lawsuits.

“I hope that Father Reardon is brought to judgment,” said the plaintiff, a Missouri man who filed the lawsuit as John Doe PM, in a statement issued Friday. “I want to see justice done so that he doesn’t harm any more children.”

Neither Reardon nor O’Brien could be reached for comment. They are among a group of 12 priests or former priests who were the subjects of a $10 million settlement that the diocese reached in 2008 with 47 plaintiffs who had filed sexual abuse lawsuits.

The diocese said in a statement Friday that it had not seen the new lawsuit “and has no information specific to the allegations” but is “distraught at this and every report of the sexual abuse of a child.”

Reardon was ordained in 1967 and served in five parishes, leaving the ministry in 1989, the diocese said.

The diocese said it is in the process of formally removing him from the priesthood through church courts.

O’Brien has been retired from parish ministry since 1984 and has been restricted permanently from representing himself as a member of the clergy since 2002, the diocese said.

The lawsuit alleges that beginning when the plaintiff was in grade school, Reardon and O’Brien encouraged him and other boys to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana. The lawsuit alleges that the diocese and O’Brien, who was Reardon’s supervisor at the time, allowed Reardon access to children and covered up the abuse.

The plaintiff said in his statement that during the alleged abuse, he went to Monsignor O’Brien “and asked if what Father Reardon was doing to me was right.”

“O’Brien told me, ‘Listen to him. He knows exactly what he’s doing, he’s helping you, and he’s a man of God,’ ” the plaintiff said.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests announced the lawsuit at a news conference near an apartment complex in Overland Park that the group said was Reardon’s last known address. The complex is near Overland Trail Elementary and Middle Schools and Kansas City Christian School’s Oxford Park Campus.

SNAP members handed out fliers in the neighborhood.

“We just want to warn these unsuspecting families,” said SNAP’s executive director, David Clohessy.