‘Evil snake’: Mike Foreman’s quest for justice after sexual assault by Kansas Catholic priest

By: - June 26, 2023 9:24 am
Mike Foreman holds signs that express his view of the Catholic Church after recording an interview for the Kansas Reflector podcast on June 19, 2023, in Topeka

Mike Foreman holds signs that express his view of the Catholic Church after recording an interview for the Kansas Reflector podcast on June 19, 2023, in Topeka. Foreman was sexually assaulted at age 11 by a priest from Queen of the Holy Rosary Parish in Overland Park. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Mike Foreman is not a Catholic.

This is a sentiment he has echoed repeatedly through his years of campaigning for justice for sexual assault victims, and the phrase is also the name of his website, through which he tries to broadcast his own story of abuse and coverup by the Catholic Church in Kansas. 

In an interview for the Kansas Reflector podcast, Foreman said he was haunted by a lack of true reparations from the church.

Foreman was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Father Finian Meis at the age of 11, when his family was attending Queen of the Holy Rosary Parish in Overland Park. Foreman said the assault happened over the course of two “therapy” sessions held at Meis’ house.

When Foreman told his mother about the first assault right after it happened, he said the priest convinced her it was just a part of his therapy methods. She brought him back to the priest’s house again, dropping him off with a freshly baked cake.

“My mother was just so brainwashed and hoodwinked by the Catholic Church, it was just disgusting,” Foreman said. “There’s no doubt in my mind and my heart, my mother had no ill will or vicious intent towards me. She thought that priest was God.”

Mike Foreman appears for a June 19, 2023, recording of the Kansas Reflector podcast in downtown Topeka.
Mike Foreman describes members of a Catholic Church review board, which rejected his appeal for justice, as “just pure evil.” (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Foreman blocked the memories of the assault until around the age of 49, in 2011. After finally feeling ready to tell his story, in 2013 Foreman’s lawyer sent Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann a letter seeking compensation for damages, therapy and his suffering.

Foreman was then contacted by the church’s Independent Review Board, a panel of people picked by the Church to review and judge validity of church clergy abuse cases. He sat through a meeting with them, detailing the abuse for more than an hour.

Three months after the meeting, he got a letter from Naumann stating he and the IRB had concluded his claims against Meis couldn’t be validated, even though details of his abuse aligned with other victims.

“That’s just a blatant lie,” Foreman said. “Because he knew my details, he knew I was telling the truth. … What an arrogant evil snake.”

Foreman then sued the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, but the case was dismissed because the statute of limitations on his sexual assault had passed. Still determined to get his story out, Foreman participated in the Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s four-year inquiry into alleged child sexual abuse in the Catholic diocese around the state. The summary released in January found 188 Kansas clergy members had abused 140 victims.

Foreman said he learned in November 2022 from a KBI agent that the church didn’t believe his allegations of assault because the review board didn’t like his tone and didn’t believe a priest would assault a child soon after moving to a new city.

“That’s just asinine,” Foreman said. “That’s just beyond ridiculous. These people are just pure evil, just flat out evil.”

In response to Kansas Reflector inquiries for this story, Anita McSorley, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Catholic Conference, said the church wouldn’t comment on individual cases.

“The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas takes all allegations of misconduct by church personnel very seriously and works to respond to survivors’ needs with urgency, respect and compassion,” McSorley said.

While Foreman has continued to tell his story — he recently participated in “Procession,” a Robert Greene documentary that tells the story of six men who were abused by priests in the Catholic church — he said he still struggles to find a sense of peace.

“The Catholic Church has made this so much worse for me, and I’m sure for a lot of other people,” Foreman said. “It’s just beyond belief. And what really makes it worse is when they lie to the public about healing, mercy and empathy.”

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Rachel Mipro
Rachel Mipro

A graduate of Louisiana State University, Rachel Mipro has covered state government in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. She and her fellow team of journalists were 2022 Goldsmith Prize Semi-Finalists for their work featuring the rise of the KKK in northern Louisiana, following racially-motivated shootings in 1960. With her move to the Midwest, Rachel is now turning her focus toward issues within Kansas public policies.