Archdiocese of Oklahoma City to release report on clergy sex abuse

Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

ENID, Okla. — The Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City announced Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, retired priest Marvin Leven, 94, who served at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in the 1990s, has been added to the list of priests who have had a substantiated allegation of abuse of a minor.

Archbishop Paul Coakley made the announcement following an investigation by retired Oklahoma City police detective Kim Davis. Davis was hired by the McAfee & Taft law firm at the request of the archdiocese to investigate older allegations of abuse of minors, according to an archdiocese press release.

Coakley commissioned McAfee & Taft in August 2018 to conduct a review and write a report on clergy sex abuse in the archdiocese after a Pennsylvania grand jury report detailed clergy abuse of more than 1,000 victims by more than 300 priests there, dating back to 1947.

McAfee & Taft released its report last October, finding 11 priests had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors between 1960 and 2018. Two of those priests — David Imming and James Mickus — had ties to Enid and northwest Oklahoma. The others in that initial 77-page report were Thomas Behnke, David Armstead Cowden, Stephen Cude, Mathias Faue, Francis Mantica, Rocco Perone, Edward Prather, Francis Rapp and Benjamin Zoeller.

The substantiated allegation against Leven involves a former parishioner of Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church who contacted the archdiocese in 1993 with an allegation of abuse. According to the archdiocese press release, the alleged abuse started when the man was 15 and recurred as a young adult at Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Edmond.

In 1995, as part of the archdiocese’s investigation, Leven was sent to Saint Luke Institute for an evaluation related to sexual abuse. In a letter to the diocese, professionals at the institute stated the allegations "were possible" and recommended Leven have no unsupervised contact with minors. They also recommended he seek intensive outpatient psychotherapy.

McAfee & Taft's report classified the archdiocese's investigation into Leven as "seemingly thorough," but noted the three-member investigation team, comprised of priests, displayed a "lack of expertise in the manner and methods it utilized in conducting the investigation."

"We identified numerous times when the priests being interviewed would provide information that seemed relevant to the investigation, yet the three-member panel would simply move to the next question in the outline, rather than ask follow-up questions to obtain additional information," according to the report.

"In the same investigation, the three-panel members also failed to interview key witnesses," according to the McAfee & Taft report, including the "rectory maid or other rectory staff who may have observed relevant conduct."

Leven was returned to St. Francis Xavier with the instruction that he “not be permitted to have ministerial contact with minors unless other adults are present,” according to the archdiocese press release.

According to McAfee & Taft's 2019 report, Eusebius Beltran, who was archbishop at the time of the alleged offense, told investigators he met with the associate pastor at St. Francis Xavier and tasked that priest with making sure Leven had no unsupervised contact with children.

The unnamed associate pastor, however, told McAfee & Taft he never "had any such meeting with Archbishop Beltran and further denied that anyone had ever told him that Fr. (Leven) had been placed on a restricted ministry that required no unsupervised contact with minors," adding it would have been "absurd" for him to oversee such a policy regarding Leven.

When McAfee & Taft followed up with Beltran, their report states Beltran "declined to answer any more of our questions, stating ... 'I have nothing further to add to the records on file.'”

A second allegation of inappropriate behavior with a minor at Saint Francis Xavier also was substantiated by the investigation into Leven.

In its 2019 findings, McAfee & Taft did not name Leven, because his investigation was ongoing, referring only to him as "Fr. [redacted]," but added "we do intend to make our findings known to the Archdiocese upon completion of the investigation, and we hope and expect that if we find that the allegations of sexual abuse of minors are substantiated against Fr. [redacted], the Archdiocese will publicize the findings."

The archdiocese did so on Tuesday, after the Archdiocese Review Board determined the allegation to be substantiated and recommended Leven be added to the list.

"Based on the results of the investigation and the recommendation of the board, Archbishop Coakley has revoked Father Leven’s priestly faculties pursuant to canon (church) law," according to the press release.

In addition to St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Leven's time as a priest included service at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Altus, Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Edmond, Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Okarche, Holy Family Catholic Church in Lawton, Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Tulsa, Saint Eugene Catholic Church in Oklahoma City and Holy Family Cathedral in Tulsa.

He retired as a parish priest in June 1999 but served as assistant chaplain at Mercy Health Center in Oklahoma City until 2013.

The full original report issued by McAfee & Taft and the clergy abuse list for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City can be found at archokc.org/clergyabusereport. Leven is referenced in the report as "Fr. [redacted] on pages 58 and 62-63 of the report.

To report abuse of a minor, contact the archdiocese’s Victim Assistance Coordinator at (405) 720-9878.

In its press release, the archdiocese advised the public to immediately report any incidences of abuse, including those "involving priests, deacons, volunteers, youth, chaperones and employees of a parish, school or diocese," by contacting local law enforcement, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services at (800) 522-3511 and the archdiocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator. If a child is in immediate danger, call 911.

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Neal is health, military affairs and religion reporter and columnist for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @jamesnealwriter, and online at jamesrneal.com.
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