Fugitive priest pleads guilty again to sex-abuse charges
(In 2004 Samoa News received a request from the Dallas Morning News to provide a photographer and translator to accompany their reporter Reese Dunklin to Samoa to search out fugitive priest Frank Klep. Lilomaiava Andrew Fa’asau, who now runs Naenae Productions was that photographer. Here is Reese Dunklin's latest update on a decade old story that is not yet concluded.)
A notorious figure from our 2004-2005 series about the Catholic Church’s global transfer of sexually abusive priests has admitted to molesting even more children.
Australian prosecutors had filed 34 criminal charges against Frank Klep. That number was cut to 12 in a guilty plea this month, according to news reports. The 70-year-old now awaits an April pre-sentencing hearing in Melbourne.
During the recent court hearing, Klep said only one word.
This is Klep’s third time through Australia’s justice system. The latest charges arose from a parliamentary inquiry last year and involve 14 now-grown boys.
Klep’s abuse happened in the 1970s and 1980s at an infamous boarding school run by the Salesians of Don Bosco religious order. He was principal for years and oversaw the infirmary as well. He used medications to drug some of the boys he raped.
What makes that more alarming is several other priests on staff there were abusing students — and church leaders knew it. They responded by moving Klep and the others to new countries.
Klep’s first conviction was in 1994. He served three months behind bars in the assaults of two brothers who came forward as adults. He was questioned in 1996 in the abuse of a third ex-student. While that case remained open, the Salesians sent him to Samoa.
Klep stayed in ministry near children, even after Australian police charged him in 1998. There was no extradition treaty with Samoa. And the Salesians didn’t offer to return him.
The Samoan government told me in 2004 that no one had alerted it to Klep. He had lied on immigration papers about his criminal record. The Samoans used that falsification to expel him after my report.
The Klep case became an international news story. He was arrested upon arrival in Australia. He later pleaded guilty to abusing 11 former students, served nearly six years in prison and was defrocked.
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