The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception - Denver

The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, Colorado as seen from Capitol City Park.

A report released Tuesday by the Colorado Attorney General's Office identifies nine new Catholic priests accused of sexually abusing juveniles in the mid-to late 20th century, pushing the number of clergy identified by the office to over 50 and the number of victims past 200.

The new findings, a supplement to the report released in October 2019 by former U.S. Attorney Robert Troyer, include 46 new victims who have come forward since the initial review and list were completed. The supplemental report wraps up a nearly two-year-long investigation by Troyer that examined allegations of abuse within church-provided files dating back to 1950.

The priests newly accused of abuse are from the Archdiocese of Denver and the Pueblo diocese.

The reckoning, as investigators have called it, comes decades after much of the abuse described in both reports took place. The totality of the findings describe 212 children abused by 52 priests. Most of the children identified in the were between 10 and 14.

There were 150 children abused by 27 priests from the Denver archdiocese; three were abused by two priests in the Colorado Springs diocese; and 59 were abused by 23 priests in the Pueblo diocese.

"From the time we announced this program in February 2019, our goals were to support and comfort survivors of childhood sexual abuse by Catholic priests, and to bring meaningful change to how the Colorado diocese protect children from sexual abuse," Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a statement.

At a press conference Tuesday morning, Weiser said the report concludes his office's 22-month effort, which he described as a "voluntary" joint agreement between the church and the state. He said that some victims had come forward but did not want their accounts included in the report. He reiterated what he's said previously: The report, because of its reliance on church records and victims' willingness to share, is an incomplete accounting. What's more, the inquiry focused on members of the Catholic clergy and not religious groups within the church. 

Nonetheless, the completed effort describes a decades-long epidemic of abuse within the church that was mishandled and ignored by church leaders. Weiser told media Tuesday that the investigation focused on the abuse, rather than chasing coverups to their endpoint. He said the extent of the coverups is "a question that the church can and will be asked." 

In a statement, the Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests said additional "identification and punishment of any abusers who are still alive, as well as any of their enablers who ignored reports, shifted them around, and allowed more children to be hurt."

"Institutions do not change on their own, they must be forced to do so, and we believe that those who enabled the sexual abuse of children and the vulnerable must be identified and removed," the group wrote.

Jeb Barrett, the director of SNAP in Denver, said the release of the two reports brought no closure to victims because the abuse shook victims' ability to trust the church in any way. He criticized the Denver Archdiocese for calling the abuse "sins."

"We’re not talking about sin, we’re talking about crimes," Barrett said. "Crimes against children, youths and vulnerable adults that they have known about for centuries, and they've done nothing, and they're still not willing to do anything.

The newly identified Denver priests are Fathers Kenneth Funk, Daniel Kelleher, James Moreno, Gregory Smith, and Charles Woodrich. The Pueblo priests are Monsignor Marvin Kapushion and Fathers Duane Repola, Carlos Trujillo, and Joseph Walsh.

Woodrich -- more commonly known as Father Woody -- was a prominent figure in Denver. Ordained in 1953, he was known for his humanitarian efforts, particularly when it came to working with transient populations.

In 2005, "a small group ... dedicated to carrying on Father Woody's legacy" purchased Havens of Hope, which helped serve the transient population. It was dedicated in 2007, a ceremony attended by then-Gov. Bill Rittner. Woodrich was also involved with the Samaritan House, which is run by the church's charitable organization.

Three victims who came forward to allege abuse by Woodrich are included in the report. They describe sexual abuse in the 1970s and 1980s; in one case, the victim said he was abused repeatedly for several years. Of the newly identified priests, Woodrich was the most prolific abuser.

In a statement, the Archdiocese of Denver acknowledged Woodrich's inclusion on the list and said his and other Denver priests' names have been removed "from any honorary designation including buildings, facilities, and programs." 

"For Catholics, learning about the past sins of former priests has been extremely difficult, especially when the priest was well-known and respected," the archdiocese wrote.

While none of the newly identified clergy contain allegations within their church files, at least one had been reported to two different Pueblo bishops, who told the victim that he wouldn't be believed and that the allegation would hurt the church.

In the case of another Pueblo priest, the diocese did not report his alleged abuse to police until two weeks after his death in April. The Denver Archdiocese and Attorney General's Office both referred questions to the Pueblo diocese itself, which did not return a message seeking comment.

As was the case with the original report, none of the newly unearthed abuse claims are alleged to have happened in the 21st century.

But Troyer, in his initial report last year, said that flaws within the church "impede full reporting" and thus "clergy child sex abuse in Colorado may still be rring."

"The fact that we found no substantiated clergy child sex abuse incidents in the files after 1998 does not mean there was no abuse between 1998 and the present; it may only mean such abuse has not been reported yet," investigators wrote last year. "If the dioceses do not address the flaws we have identified in their response systems, victims will fail to report, the ones who do may be re-victimized, and their abusers will remain in active ministry and not be brought to justice."

In its statement, SNAP wrote that "we know that this report does not unveil the full extent of clergy abuse in Colorado. The report does not cover those victims who only reported to Church authorities, and fails to include any information from religious orders that have operated – and abused – within Colorado borders."

Of the 46 newly identified victims, 16 "were abused after the relevant diocese already knew that the priest was a child sex abuser." All but one report were turned over to police.

The report was based only off of new information that was brought to the Attorney General's Office or was brought to the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program, a church-sponsored effort to give money to abuse victims. That effort has led to more than $7.3 million in payments, the attorney general said Tuesday.

Weiser said that no criminal referrals had been made as a result of new findings, though at least one report was made before the priest's death earlier year. Investigators wrote that the police report in that case wasn't filed until two weeks after the priest died in April, two months after the report itself was made.

Weiser drew a comparison between his office's report and one issued by a Pennsylvania grand jury two years ago. He said in that case, Pennsylvania investigators had "freestanding criminal oversight," which his office did not have. He said that the state legislature could further expand his office's powers, though he isn't seeking that power.

In addition to its findings about historical abuse and the church's "long history of silence, self-protection, and secrecy," Troyer's work also included recommendations for Colorado's Catholic dioceses to improve their responsiveness to victims of abuse.

Overall, investigators determined that the church "has implemented meaningful, specific and measurable improvements to its child-abuse prevention and child-protection systems in response to the earlier report."

The dioceses accepted all of investigators' previous recommendations, which included putting in palace independent investigative processes; "substantially improving" record-keeping systems to improve investigations and reporting; and "creating a culture that encourages victims and parishioners to report child sex abuse first and directly to law enforcement."

According to the supplemental report, investigators wrote that the Denver Archdiocese has implemented all of the recommendations, although some -- like the development of an investigative manual -- are still in process. 

The archdiocese has "fully committed" to allowing for an independent auditor to "conduct thorough, substantive and qualitative evaluations" to gauge the efficacy of the archdiocese's systems. It also separated its victim coordinator from investigations and removed investigative power from its review board, which will instead receive completed reviews and later make a recommendation to the archbishop. 

Still, the changes implemented by the church are still under the church's own purview and control. Weiser said the church "has made public commitments," and if they were to fail to live up to those commitments, the state would look into implementing its own oversight. 

In a joint statement, Colorado's bishops -- from Denver, Colorado Springs and Denver -- and its archbishop said they hoped "this process has demonstrated our commitment to continuing to enhance and strength our child-protection policies so that the sins of the past do not repeat themselves." 

Priests facing new allegations

As was the case with the first report, the new findings describe the number of victims for each priest and the details around those allegations.

In the case of Woodrich, investigators wrote that he groomed two boys who were altar servers and a third who was a parishioner.

The first victim was abused  "once or twice per month" for six years, between 1983 and 1989, when Woodrich was serving at Holy Ghost Parish in Denver. The victim reported the abuse in January.

The second victim was abused in 1976, after Woodrich befriended him and his family, mentioned him in sermons, and began grooming him. The victim came forward in December 2019.

Woodrich's third alleged victim was an altar server whom Woodrich plied with alcohol and abuse in "approximately" 1978, when the victim was 15 or 16 years old. 

When he was allegedly abusing his latter two victims, Woodrich was assigned to Holy Ghost but was serving as a visiting priest in Estes Park, at Our Lady of the Mountains, at the time of the abuse.

Investigators wrote that "it does not appear" church authorities were aware of the allegations against Woodrich before the boys' abuse.

Kenneth Funk, another Denver priest, is accused in the report of abusing one boy, whom he groomed for two years when the victim was an altar server at Holy Name Parish in Steamboat Springs. The abuse occurred in 1959 and 1962 and was first reported in "early 2020." 

Daniel Kelleher abused a St. Paul's parishioner in late 1962, when the victim was 15. James Moreno abused a boy "at least 60 times" during the victim's time in high school, according to the report, between 1978 and 1980. 

Gregory Smith whipped and later sexually abuse a 9-year-old, torment that continued "on a daily or weekly basis until the boy was 14 years old." Smith was the priest at St. Frances de Sales in Denver during the abuse.

In the Pueblo diocese, Marvin Kapushion abused a ward of the Sacred Heart Orphanage when the victim was helping at a Christmas party in 1984. Kapushion died in April, two months after the victim came forward.

Investigators wrote that the Pueblo diocese "waited until 2 weeks after his death to report him to the police." It then launched an investigation into the allegation, which did not include interviewing the victim, who was represented by a lawyer.

Both the Attorney General's Office and the Denver Archdiocese referred questions to the Pueblo diocese, which did not return a message seeking comment.

Joseph Walsh allegedly abused two Sacred Heart orphans in the early to mid-1950s. The first victim, who was between the ages of 4 and 8 years old when he was abused, reported Walsh twice -- in 1969 and 1981 -- but no mention of abuse is in his file.

The victim "reported his sexual abuse to 2 Pueblo Bishops," investigators wrote. "Neither took any action against Walsh. Neither restricted his ministry. Neither restricted his access to children. Neither removed him from ministry. Neither restricted his authority in any way." Instead, the second bishop told the victim he wouldn't be believed and that the allegations "would really hurt the church if it became public."

The bishop, who is not named, was given the report in 1981. In 1980, Arthur Tafoya became bishop in Pueblo, an office he kept until he resigned in 2009. He died in 2018.

The second orphan was abused by Walsh between 1951 and 1957, when she was between the ages of 7 and 13. 

Duane Repola was a priest at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pueblo when he allegedly abuse one boy in 1967.

Though explicit allegations of abuse are not mentioned in Repola's file, investigators wrote that he was repeatedly reshuffled through parishes and was briefly removed from ministry.

He sought a return and was placed on a year of absence to receive he counseling. He died during that absence in 1971.

Carlos Trujillo allegedly abused one boy after "ingratiating himself with the family." He then abused the victim for two years, while Trujillo was the pastor at St. Joseph in Capulin. 

In their joint statement, Colorado's catholic bishops and archbishop apologized and said they remained "heart-broken" by the pain endured by victims. 

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect photo of Cathedral of Saint John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church in Denver. The Episcopal Church is not related to this report. We regret the error.