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SNAP calls for Pueblo bishop to be disciplined after sexual abuse reporting revelations

pueblo bishop diocese

PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- An advocacy group supporting sexual abuse victims is calling for discipline for Pueblo Bishop Stephen Berg after revelations that the Diocese of Pueblo waited two months to report sexual abuse allegations brought to them in February of this year, according to a report released by the Colorado Attorney General on Tuesday.

The victim told the Pueblo Diocese that Monsignor Marvin Kapushion sexually abused him in 1984 but police weren't notified until two weeks after Kapushion died in April 2020,  according to the report, which was published by former U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer.

The former U.S. attorney wrote that the victim reported that when he was 16 and an orphan at Sacred Heart Orphanage, Kapushion fondled him at a Christmas party and forced the boy to touch him.

The report also stated the Pueblo Diocese waited months to have an independent investigator look into those sex abuse allegations, which were brought to them in February of this year. The investigator did not interview the victim because an attorney was representing him, the report said.

According to the report, the investigation into the victim's allegations against Kapushion “found zero substantiated complaints of any kind of abuse toward children,” because it was substantially incomplete.

"To us, this appears to be a brazen attempt to avoid scandal and punishment and we call on Pope Francis to intervene in this situation and immediately remove the prelate who allowed this to happen," SNAP's Denver Director Jeb Barrett said.

SNAP is calling on Archbishop Samuel Aquila of the Archdiocese of Denver to immediately bar Bishop Berg from public ministry and for Pope Francis to launch an investigation.

"We think that this situation is a no-brainer. Early last year, Pope Francis pledged an “all-out battle” against clergy abuse. The situation in Pueblo is now the latest skirmish in that battle. Pope Francis and the Metropolitan for the Diocese of Pueblo must step in, publicly denounce this decision by Catholic officials in that diocese, and discipline, to whatever extent possible, those involved in this attempted cover-up," Barrett said.

On Tuesday, the Diocese of Pueblo turned down an interview with KRDO and asked to schedule it later in the week. A spokesperson said they were still reviewing and digesting the report.

However, Bishop Stephen Berg told our news partners at the Pueblo Chieftain that his staff has "vigorously reported" every allegation of sexual abuse by a priest immediately.

Berg said that the reporting protocol for the February allegation was different because it surfaced through an independent investigation, according to the Chieftain.

The Pueblo Bishop told the Chieftain the victim did not report the allegation to police as Berg said it required by the program. According to Berg, the claim was later denied by the independent investigator who did not interview the victim.

Berg said in all other circumstances the church would have immediately notified law enforcement.

"It's a proforma thing even. If the allegation happened 30-40 years ago, we call the police. In this case, we didn't have a claim. The registration form didn't come to us until March 11. We didn't know what the claim was and we did make the presumption that it would be reported through their process," Berg said.

The Pueblo Diocese released this statement to KRDO from the Catholic Bishops of Colorado, which said in part:

"We hope and pray that this independent review and reparations process over the last two years has provided a measure of justice and healing for the survivors who came forward and shared their stories. We remain heartbroken by the pain they have endured, we again offer our deepest apologies for the past failures of the Church, and we promise that we will always pray for continued healing for them and their families. We as bishops continue to be willing to meet personally with survivors when they make the request. Even those these specific programs have concluded, we will continue to work with and support anyone who comes forward."

The Archdiocese of Denver told KRDO on Wednesday that it would be inappropriate for them to comment on the matters surrounding the Pueblo Diocese.

Investigations / Local News / Pueblo

Chelsea Brentzel

Chelsea is an investigative reporter for KRDO NewsChannel 13. Learn more about Chelsea here.

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