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Kansas City Lawsuit Accuses Reno-area Priest of Sexual Assault

Kansas City Lawsuit Accuses Reno-area Priest of Sexual Assault

By Martha Bellisle
The Register-Journal
October 21, 2010

From the Link: Kansas City Lawsuit Accuses Reno-area Priest of Sexual Assault

"Father" Thomas Cronin: Father Tom Cronin leads the Christmas morning mass at Saint Mary in the Mountains Catholic Church in Virginia City on Friday, Dec. 25. 2009. (David B. Parker/RGJ file)

“Father” Thomas Cronin: Father Tom Cronin leads the Christmas morning mass at Saint Mary in the Mountains Catholic Church in Virginia City on Friday, Dec. 25. 2009. (David B. Parker/RGJ file)

A Catholic priest working in the Reno area was accused in a civil lawsuit filed in Kansas City, Mo., of molesting and sexually assaulting a 17-year-old church member beginning in 1979 and continuing for several years.

The girl had allegedly told the Rev. Thomas Cronin during confession that she had been sexually abused by a relative, the suit said. Cronin allegedly responded by touching and kissing her, and then began regularly forcing her to have sex while telling her that she was special and “part of God’s plan,” the suit said.

The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, also names the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and another priest, John Tulipana, who resigned from the priesthood in 1994 after the diocese received complaints of sexual misconduct with minors, the diocese said.

Cronin, parish administrator for St. Mary’s in the Mountains in Virginia City, is on a leave of absence while the Diocese of Kansas City, where he was ordained, investigates the allegation, said Brother Matthew Cunningham, spokesman for the Diocese of Reno.

Cronin also worked as a chaplain at Washoe Medical Center, now Renown Health, in 1998-99 and was pastoral administrator at St. Robert Bellarmine in Fernley from 2000-04.

Cronin could not be reached for comment, but he denies the claims, Cunningham said. Cunningham also said the Reno diocese was not told of any allegations against Cronin when he came to Reno in 1998, and it has not received complaints of inappropriate sexual behavior since he has been here.

Bishop Randolph Calvo has not officially told the Virginia City parish about the allegations, nor has he told parishioners that Cronin is on leave, Cunningham said.

“He’s not in town right now,” Cunningham said of Calvo. “He may choose to do that in the future.”

When asked why they did not immediately notify the parish of the allegations made in the suit, which was filed on Oct. 1, or immediately place Cronin on leave, Cunningham said it took some time to reach the officials in Kansas City to find out what they planned to do.

Calvo only spoke with Cronin on Tuesday, and his leave began at that point, Cunningham said.

“Before he would say something, he wanted to have solid information before going before the congregation,” Cunningham said. “It was for no other reason but for lack of information.”

David Clohessy, executive director of the St. Louis-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, was critical of that decision.

“The minute Reno’s bishop knew of the lawsuit, he should have publicly disclosed it, suspended Cronin and begged anyone with information to step forward,” Clohessy said. “It’s proof yet again that bishops are concealing child sex-abuse allegations.

“From our view, this is a continued and disturbing and deliberate cover-up. If the media had not called, I seriously doubt that the Reno Catholics would know about it.”

The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, released a statement saying that it could not comment on the complaint but it responds to all allegations of sexual misconduct by contacting law enforcement when appropriate and having a group of lay people respond and make recommendations to the bishop.Rebecca Summers, spokeswoman for the Kansas City diocese, declined to say whether it had received any allegations against Cronin while he was there.

The diocese statement did say that it was in the process of permanently removing Tulipana, the other priest named in the suit, from the priesthood.

The woman who filed the suit, now 52 and living in Iowa, did not “recover the memory” of the alleged abuse until 2009, said her Kansas City lawyer, Rebecca Randles. She was 17 and a member of the Sacred Heart Parish in Hamilton, Mo., when it began, the suit said.

During confession, Cronin kissed her and placed his hands under her shirt, the suit said. Next, the woman was told to kneel in front of him in the confessional and perform oral sex, the suit said.

One night, Cronin guided the girl into a room with Tulipana, telling her they were going to pray, the suit said. But after she bowed her head, the priests, who smelled of alcohol, began molesting her and forced her to have intercourse, the suit said.

The sexual acts continued until Cronin left the parish, the suit said.

The lawsuit said that the diocese “aided and abetted” Cronin and Tulipana “by moving the priests from church to church following reports of his sexual abuse of minors,” by forcing the victims to be silent by representing that the priests were in good standing.

According to Randles, Cronin’s movements in Missouri suggest that the diocese knew of his alleged inappropriate behavior and shuffled him around to keep it secret.

The Catholic directory shows that he was at the Sacred Heart parish, where the girl was allegedly abused, until 1986, but he was moved in 1987 to Our Lady of Sorrows in Kansas City, Mo., where he was listed as “in residence,” Randles said.

“Whenever we see that, it raises red flags,” she said. “There has been a pattern in the Catholic church of moving priests when abuse occurs, taking them from pastoral ministry to residency.

“Sometimes, it’s innocent, but it always tells us to investigate further.”

Cronin then began working as a chaplain for six different medical centers, she said, and was in residency again in Missouri between 1994 and 1997. The directory also says Cronin was “on special assignment” in Missouri in 1996 and “on duty outside the diocese” in 1997, but it does not say where.

In 1998 he moved to Reno, and from 2000 to 2004, he was pastor at St. Robert Bellarmine in Fernley, Randles said. Both the directory and Cunningham said Cronin retired in 2005 or 2006 and went on to work as a fill-in priest at various Reno diocese parishes when needed.

Cunningham laughed when asked if he thought Cronin’s movements were a “red flag,” adding that chaplains are certified counselors and serve a special purpose. Cronin was certified with the state of Missouri for that work, he said, and was brought to Reno to work at Washoe Medical Center.

More recently, Cronin took over as parish administrator in Virginia City, where he oversees the church, pays bills and celebrates Mass on weekends as well as conducts weddings and funerals, Cunningham said.

Another priest will fill in for Cronin this weekend, Cunningham said, but no priest has been named to cover for Cronin until the investigation is complete.

“We are sorry to hear an allegation has been made, and we pray for the victim and for Father Tom,” Cunningham said. “But an allegation has been made, and we have a responsibility to follow up on that. We will let what needs to be done be done.”

Woman Comes Forward Claiming Area Priests Molested Her

Woman Comes Forward Claiming Area Priests Molested Her

Fox 4
October 4, 2010

From the link:  Woman Comes Forward Claiming Area Priests Molested Her

"Father" Thomas Cronin

“Father” Thomas Cronin

New court papers reveal sex abuse allegations against two priests who served for many years in the Kansas City area. The victim says a priest abused her after he learned during confession that she was being abused by a relative.

The allegations date back to 1979. The victim, who no longer lives in the area, said she repressed the memories until recently. On Monday the executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, called attention to the case.

Court papers name Father John Tulipana, who has faced sex abuse allegations before, but it also names Father Thomas Cronin, who has not been named before in sex abuse cases.

The victim says she was 17 years old when she confessed to Father Cronin that she was sexually abused by a relative. He told her she was chosen by God and then began molesting her. She says Father Tulipana got involved in the sex abuse while at a retreat, called Teens Encounter Christ.

SNAP’s director said these cases don’t draw the same media attention they once did, but it’s important that people remain vigilant to protect children.

“We would beg anyone who saw or suspected or suffered crimes by either Father Tulipana or Cronin to come forward, get help, start recovering and hopefully protect others from them,” said David Clohessy, SNAP executive director.

Father John Tulipana

Father John Tulipana

In a statement, the Kansas City – St. Joseph Catholic Diocese said the victim in this case was in contact with the dioceses last year about the abuse and has received counseling. Read the full statement here.

The diocese says Tulipana has not worked in the ministry since 1994 when allegations of abuse first surfaced. Father Cronin served in four metro area parishes from the 1970’s until 1996 when he went to Nevada and he’s now retired. The diocese says it responds to all allegations of abuse and works with the victim for healing and reconciliation.



From the blog: Tony’s Kansas City
Wednesday February 22, 2012


Father John Tulipana

Father John Tulipana

Unusual new abuse & cover up lawsuit is filed

Accused predator priest violated four boys in one family

The alleged crimes happened in Independence over two decades


For the first time, a KC area Catholic priest is being accused sexually violating four boys in one family, according to a new civil lawsuit. The case will be disclosed and discussed at a news conference today at which clergy sex abuse victims will also hold signs and childhood photos.


TODAY, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 1:30 p.m.


Outside the KC chancery (diocesan headquarters) 20 West Ninth Street (at Baltimore) in KC MO


Two child sex abuse victims who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (, including a St. Louis man who is the organization’s long-time director


A new civil lawsuit charges that Fr. John Tulipana sexually assaulted four boys (ranging in age from 10 – 16) in one family in/around St. Catherine’s parish between roughly 1976 and 1992. Most of the alleged crimes happened between 1979-81, sometimes on camping and fishing trips and sometimes at the family’s home. Some of the boys repressed the memories of the abuse, according to the suit.

Tulipana left active ministry in the mid-1990s because of credibly abuse allegations.

In 1989, Richard Durocher told church officials Tulipana had abused him as a child. The diocese gave him $150,000 but demanded that he sign a “gag order” preventing him from discussing the abuse. Durocher was promised that Tulipana would receive therapy and children would be protected. But Tulipana was allowed to stay in active ministry with access to kids. In 1994, Durocher broke his silence, the KC Star wrote about the case, and Tulipana resigned. Since then, the diocese has admitted that others have come forward with sex abuse charges and they have settled with at least “several” of them.

Tulipana was ordained in 1972 and worked in at least eight parishes including Independence (

"Father" Thomas Cronin

“Father” Thomas Cronin

), Grandview (Coronation of Our Lady), Clinton (Holy Rosary), and Kansas City (St. Catherine’s at 4101 E. 105th Terrace; St. Augustine’s at 7801 the Paseo; Christ the King at 85th Street & Wornall Road; Holy Trinity at 934 Norton Ave., and, in the mid-1990s, at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception). He also taught at the University of Dallas.Tulipana is believed to be in his mid- 60s, working as an insurance agent, and living at 301 S. Shrank in Independence. A photo of Tulipana is available at

According to 2010 lawsuit “multiple priests and lay persons (knew) that Tulipana (and another priest, Fr. Thomas Cronin) were sexually abusing children, providing liquor to children and spending inordinate amounts of time with children.”

That suit also says that the KC diocese “aided and abetted” Cronin and Tulipana “by moving the priests from church to church following reports of his sexual abuse of minors,” by forcing the victims to be silent by representing that the priests were in good standing.

The new suit seeks unspecified damages and is filed in Jackson County Circuit Court.

SNAP worries that others who have been hurt by Fr. Tulipana may still be “suffering in shame, isolation and self blame” and want Catholic officials to “aggressively reach out to others in pain.”

KC attorney Rebecca Randles represents the victim. KC lawyer Jon Haden represents the diocese (which is also named as a defendant.) SNAP doesn’t know if Tulipana has a lawyer.

Earlier this month, similar suits were filed against two other KC priests – Fr. Thomas Ford (who hadn’t been publicly accused of abuse before) and Fr. James Urbanic (who was suspended from active ministry at Sacred Heart parish in Warrensburg last summer).


David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP Executive Director,,
Barb Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP Outreach Director,,

Father Thomas Cronin, accused priest, now runs a woman’s shelter

Father Thomas Cronin, accused priest, now runs a woman’s shelter

"Father" Thomas Cronin

“Father” Thomas Cronin

SNAP has learned that a Catholic priest, accused of molesting a girl in a pending child sex abuse and cover up lawsuit, now runs a shelter for abused women and their families. For the sake of public safety, SNAP wants Reno Bishop Randolph Calvo to force the cleric to sever all ties to the shelter. And SNAP wants Calvo to use church resources (parish bulletins, church websites, and pulpit announcements) to warn the public and parishioners about him.

The priest is Fr. Thomas J. Cronin, who lives at 143 Desert Lakes Rd. (on the edge of a golf course) in Fernley and lists the same address as the site of “Rachel’s Sanctuary,” which he evidently founded. Cronin is originally from the recently-troubled Kansas City MO diocese but has lived and worked in Nevada for roughly 15 years.

According to the suit, Cronin allegedly repeatedly raped a 17 year old girl in 1979 in western Missouri. Once he did so while another KC priest, Fr. John Tulipana, watched and masturbated.

Tulipana has been publicly accused of child sex crimes before. Cronin has not been. Neither has been defrocked (though Tulipana faces several accusers and was suspended from the priesthood in the mid-1990s.) Several suits against Tulipana have been settled, one for $150,000.

According to the 34 page suit, through confession, Cronin learned that the girl had been abused by a relative. Later, he manipulated and molested her as many as ten times. “Multiple priests and lay persons (knew) that Tulipana and Cronin were sexually abusing children, providing liquor to children and spending inordinate amounts of time with children,” the suit maintains.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and was filed in October 2010 in Jackson County Missouri Circuit Court. Three weeks after it was filed, Calvo still had not suspended Cronin, until SNAP drew public attention to the litigation and Cronin’s presence in Nevada.

Cronin has worked in Reno (St. Therese Church of the Little Flower, 1997-99), Fernley (St. Robert Bellarmine, 1999-04), Empire (St. Joseph the Worker, 1999-04), and Virginia City (St. Mary of the Mountains, 2009-10). From 1997-99, he was also a chaplain at Washoe Medical Center, now Renown Regional Medical Center, in Reno.

This weekend, Cronin and many top Nevada officials are expected to attend a special 150th celebration at St. Mary of the Mountains in Virginia City, NV (where he worked).

Cronin was ordained in 1969 and was sent to Nevada in the late 1990s. He was a realtor from 2004-09 and has claimed he is a “chaplain” for the Lyon County Sheriff’s Department. A photo of Cronin is available at His phone number is listed as 775 575-9500 and his email address is

Rachel’s Sanctuary’s is a tax-deductible 501(c)3 non-profit. Its board includes Tiffany and Jason Doyle (owners of The Pizza Factory in Fernley), Martha Cervantes, and Cynthia J. Luther. William Bauer is the treasurer and William A. Baker is the organization’s “registered agent.” All are apparently Fernley residents.

Cronin worked in at least four Missouri towns (Blue Springs, Hamilton, Gallatin, Higginsville, and Kansas City) and several chaplaincies (at Children’s Mercy, Truman Medical Center, Western Missouri Mental Health Center, Charlotte Extended Care Center, University of Missouri-Kansas City Dentistry School, and the University School of Medicine).

The victim is represented by Kansas City attorney Rebecca Randles (816 931 9901, 816 510 2704 cell), who has handled dozens of clergy sex abuse and cover up suits. The victim in this suit, who now lives outside Missouri, repressed memory of the crimes until 2009, the suit says.