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Rapid City Bishop Names 21 Priests Credibly Accused of Sexual Abuse Since 1952

Rapid City Bishop Robert D. Gruss has published the names of 21 priests who, according to allegations the Diocese deems credible, sexually abused children while ministering in the Rapid City Diocese. Bishop Gruss’s letter accompanying the rap sheet reads as follows:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The current sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church has called forth, and rightfully so, greater accountability and transparency of bishops and dioceses in the resolution of cases of misconduct involving a member of the clergy. This is essential in restoring the trust that has been broken as the result of the misconduct of a few.

The Diocese of Rapid City remains committed to reaching out to victims of childhood sexual abuse within our Diocese as well as doing all that we can to protect our youth and vulnerable adults from harm.

In the interest of transparency and accountability, I have chosen, as part of our ongoing process of reaching out to the Diocesan community, to publicly identify those priests who have carried out ministry in the Diocese of Rapid City, and against whom there is a credible claim of sexual abuse of a minor. An allegation is deemed to be credible if there is reasonable cause to believe that abuse occurred. This determination follows a process of consultation and is not a legal judgment. Inclusion on this list does not imply that the claims are true and correct in that the accused individual has been found guilty of a crime or liable for civil claims. In many instances, the claims were made many years or decades after the alleged events and therefore were not capable of an investigation and determination.

It is important to acknowledge the horrid truth of past abuse in the Church so that we can repent of these actions, and to recommit ourselves to ensuring that no one is hurt moving forward.

I will ensure that the diocese remains vigilant and transparent in fulfilling its policies and procedures regarding reported sexual misconduct. Anyone who has been a victim of sexual misconduct by a bishop, priest, deacon or lay employee is invited to contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator by calling 605-209-3418.

As the Body of Christ, let us all pray for reparation for the sins and failings of those who abused their power and authority which led to the injury of others, especially our children.

Please continue to pray for the healing of those victims and their families who have been harmed by such actions.

Please pray for me and our clergy as we move through this crisis. Pray, too, that the Lord Jesus, the Divine Physician, who gave his life for his Church, leads her to true healing, conversion and holiness. Be assured of my continued prayers for all of you.

Sincerely in the peace of Christ,

Most Rev. Robert D. Gruss Bishop of Rapid City [open letter, 2019.03.15]

The Rapid City Journal notes that all but one of the accused priests are dead. The only priest remaining to face earthly justice is John Praveen, who pled guilty last month to sexual contact with a thirteen-year-old girl.

Six of the priests drew multiple allegations of sexual abuse. Three of the alleged abusers—John Corry, William Lambert, and Dennis Riss—are accused of abuses that spanned decades. The earliest year of any allegation listed is 1952. Praveen’s crime is the only abuse reported in this century.


  1. marvin kammerer 2019-03-20 09:57

    finally a bishop from this diocese is starting to function as a bishop!

  2. jerry 2019-03-20 10:10

    True that Mr. kammerer. All of the previous Bishops should be held accountable for looking the other way.

    What is the difference between the Bishops and the guy who was just found guilty of being in the know about an assault on a woman near Pine Ridge? The penalty for him should be the same as for these Bishops who knew but kept their pie hole shut.

  3. leslie 2019-03-20 11:38

    The devastation to families, and cultures for that matter, is incalculable, unforgivable and has been unaccountable. Resulting addiction and alcoholism of victims takes on average 25 years from a person’s life and families are completely disrupted for decades and generations. Healthy recovery, if ever, is little understood by science, medicine and society. Bigger society generally shrugs with non understanding. If it hasn’t happened to you, yet, jail and death are the prevalent solutions provided by the generally incompassionate good ole USA. Just look at any Republican County Commission.

  4. Sheldon Osborn 2019-03-20 13:57

    Wasn’t William Lambert a Bishop?

  5. Roger Cornelius 2019-03-20 14:31

    There are three priest on this list that I personally knew from days at Rosary Indian Mission (now Red Cloud Indian School)and St Isaac Jogues in Rapid City.
    They are:
    Eugene Parshall
    Bernard Fagan
    Joseph Gill
    While at Holy Rosary Mission I made lifelong friendships with several of the Jesuits, at the time we called those not ordained as priests Jesuits as opposed to Father.
    I can report during my time at Holy Rosary there was never any sexual advance toward me. It could be that I didn’t fit the abusers profile.
    Frankly I think the number of abusers is higher than stated. It was common knowledge that priests and Jesuits assigned to Indian missions had been sent there for some kind of penitence for naughty Jesuits.
    Of the ten Jesuits and priests that I knew from Holy Rosary only 2 have stayed in the order.
    Father Fagan was killed in a car accident and was still a priest at the time of his death.

  6. Jenny 2019-03-20 14:46

    Sheldon, I don’t believe Father Lambert was a Bishop.
    Dirty Bastards aren’t they.

  7. leslie 2019-03-20 22:07

    Forgiveness, from those more enlightened than I, in the grand scheme, has to be the solution.

  8. Debbo 2019-03-20 23:54

    Roger, I wondered if you knew some of them. This must be difficult for you because you probably have a good idea who many of the victims are. I’m sorry.

    Marvin, if he was really acting as a bishop of the people of the diocese, he would not say this:
    “Anyone who has been a victim of sexual misconduct by a bishop, priest, deacon or lay employee is invited to contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator by calling 605-209-3418.”

    Rather he would say, “Call the police. A crime has been committed against you and the perpetrator of that criminal act must be brought to justice immediately. Then call the VAC *if you want to* so that we can support you in any way you wish. We are on your side and will let the civil legal authorities deal with the perpetrator.”

    THAT is how you advocate for, stand beside and fully support the victim. You can see how the RCC has Never Once done that. What they do, every single time they open their mouths or put pen to paper, is PR, damage control. Period.

  9. Debbo 2019-03-20 23:56

    The RCC has been perfectly consistent in working for their goal:
    Protecting their wealth, power and prestige.

  10. Jake Kammerer 2019-03-21 14:22

    Reminds me of our current Congressional delegation and their “extreme silence” on the actions/comments of their GOP Republican leader in the White House. Their cowardice toward speaking up to faults of this POS— holding our highest office is their dereliction of duty toward the the ideals expressed by the GOP, doesn’t it?

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