San Diego Why is Roman Catholic priest Rudolph Kos, a.k.a. Rudy Edward, a.k.a. Father Rudy, whom a Dallas jury found liable for sexually abusing 11 boys, able to live without supervision near an elementary school in downtown's Little Italy?
On July 24, 11 plaintiffs in John Does 1P11 vs. Kos and Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas won a $120 million judgment against Father Kos and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas. The judgment is the largest sum ever paid in a clergy-abuse case. The civil jury ordered the diocese to pay compensation for "gross negligence" in its handling of Kos. The plaintiffs claim the church allowed Father Kos between 1981 and 1992 to victimize young male parishioners under the protection of a "centuries-old practice of concealment" by the church's clergy.
On May 7, 1996, in a Dallas court, Kos, 52, was also indicted on criminal charges of indecency with a child and sexual assault by contact. Dallas's first assistant district attorney, Norman Kinne, says each charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. An initial hearing for Kos's trial has been set for September 15 in Dallas, Texas, where the alleged offenses took place in three parishes to which Father Kos was assigned. Though Kos technically remains a priest, since late 1993 he has been barred from carrying out priestly duties.
For nearly four years Kos has been living and working in San Diego. Currently he lives on State Street, across from Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church and 500 feet from Washington Elementary School, where kindergarten through sixth graders play in the streets or tag after the bell of the ice-cream truck.
Little Italy neighbors appear unaware of Father Kos, his history, or the judgment recently leveled against the diocese of Dallas. "He hasn't been convicted in a criminal court," explains Lieutenant Jim Barker, in charge of sdpd's sex crimes unit. "We're not bound by any civil action. We have no reason to track him down, find out where he lives, or to notify neighbors. We won't do that. Am I concerned? We have concerns about a lot of folks, but we can't act illegally."
Only by chance does sdpd even know Kos is in town. "We were advised a couple of months ago," says Barker. "A reporter from Dallas was following the story and came out here and talked to us about it. That's when we first became aware."
Why didn't Dallas cops notify San Diego? "I don't think we have any obligation so long as it's only an accusation and [Kos] hasn't been convicted," says Kinne, speaking by phone from Dallas.
Megan's Law, which has allowed law enforcement since July 1 to disclose information to the public on the location of certain sex offenders, doesn't apply to the suspended Dallas priest, according to the sdpd's Barker. Part of the provision of Megan's Law is a CD/ROM disk detailing names of convicted sex offenders. "Megan's Law is only going to have felons [convicted] here in California on it," says Barker. "Occasionally if we have someone from another state who is required to register, we can get him on there. But here's an individual who has never been convicted [in a criminal court]. So he has no requirement to register. That's an issue that you always have concerns about, [but] we have no indication that he's responsible for any crimes here. And even with Megan's Law, the intent of that is not for law enforcement to follow people."
How was Kos, with criminal indictments against him and a criminal trial ahead of him, allowed to leave the state of Texas? "I believe he's out on two $5000 bonds," says Kinne. "The only obligation he has is to appear in court on September 15. Other than that, he can go to Timbuktu if he wants to." Kos's lawyer, Brad Lollar, confirms Kos paid "10 to 15 percent" of the $10,000 bond to Fast Action Bonding of Dallas, Texas.
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"Hello?" says a male voice.
"I'm from the Reader and want to have Mr. Rudy Edward tell his side of the story," I say into the intercom. I've pressed the black button next to a row of mailboxes. They guard a grilled gate outside apartments that look across to Our Lady of the Rosary.
This is the result of a tip from an anonymous reader who, "responding to my conscience," offered Kos's address. Her call followed the June 19 story in the Reader ("Rudy? He's Very Charming") revealing that Kos, using the last name Edward, had been living in San Diego since early 1994.
"He's not available right now," says the voice in the box. "I have no idea where he's at. I have no comment on anything. I'm not disclosing my name either."
When I ask when Mr. Edward will be back, the voice says, "I told you! I have no idea where he's at."
It's not surprising Kos is lying low. On the Thursday the Reader story appeared, Kos, as usual, walked to his job as a paralegal at the law firm of Shifflet, Walters, Kane & Konoske at 750 B Street. A partner and the office manager asked to see him. Ten minutes later, Kos was fired.
"After the [Reader] article came out," says Doug Walters, one of the firm's partners, "we mutually agreed that it would be better for him to go somewhere else."
Walters says Kos was with the firm only "about four weeks" and seemed to be a good paralegal. "The limited duties that he was given he seemed to perform well. He was primarily reviewing records." (Kos entered the usd graduate-level paralegal certificate program in February 1994, paying "around $3800" in tuition, according to the paralegal program's director Sue Sullivan.)
Walters says Kos came to the firm after responding to a help-wanted ad in the San Diego Transcript. "He did give us some references from [San Diego] places where he'd worked previously, and we checked those out, and they all had favorable things to say about him. He had done some contract paralegal work, and he had worked at one firm here for a period of about a year and a half or so."