News: Allegation received, investigated

September 28, 2018

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The Diocese of Des Moines recently received an allegation against Father Leonard Kenkel of decades-old sexual abuse of a minor. Upon receiving the complaint September 6, 2018, Bishop Richard Pates immediately referred the allegation to local law enforcement where the alleged abuse occurred and has been notified that the allegation is beyond the statute of limitations.

Bishop Pates has apologized to the victim, who asked for anonymity. The diocese will honor this request. 

"It has always been a top priority for me that we address all allegations of sexual abuse with utmost transparency, consistency and accountability outlined by the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The diocese continues to work diligently to ensure a safe environment for children and all vulnerable individuals in our churches and schools," said Bishop Pates.

The diocese has obtained the services of an investigator and will consult with the diocesan Allegation Review Committee to determine future steps.

Following diocesan policy, Bishop suspends a priest from public ministry facing an allegation until law enforcement and the diocesan Allegation Review Committee complete their investigations. In this case, Father Kenkel is retired and in a nursing facility and not able to minister, nonetheless, bishop has suspended his priestly faculties so he cannot engage in public ministry.

The diocese encourages anyone with allegations of abuse by clergy to contact their local police department or diocesan Victim Assistance Advocate Sam Porter at, or call 515-286-2015. He can assist the person with making a complaint, and with receiving support and counseling services.

The Allegation Review Committee is comprised of a chief of police, a judge, a lawyer, a counselor, a retired teacher, a priest and a deacon.

Father Kenkel was ordained a priest in 1960. He served the following Des Moines parishes: Christ the King, Holy Trinity and St. Peter. He also served St. Boniface Parish in Westphalia, Holy Spirit Parish in Creston and St. Edward Parish in Afton. Father Kenkel taught at Dowling Catholic High School for 27 years, from 1962 to 1989. He retired in 2008.

Two allegations of decades old abuse have previously been made in 2003 and 2005 against Father Kenkel. The Allegation Review Committee determined in both cases there was insufficient evidence to conclude sexual abuse but recommended that Father Kenkel meet with a professional to help him better understand personal space and the recognition of appropriate boundaries for physical contact, which he did.