The Rev. James A. Forsythe was a Roman Catholic priest in the
Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, Kan., when he molested a
Forsythe, who served three months in prison, is now a Protestant
minister in South Dakota, where a newspaper found he has not
registered as a sex offender as required by law.
Forsythe, 47, pleaded guilty in 1989 to attempted indecent
liberties with a child. He admitted molesting the boy about 20 times
while a pastor at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Overland Park.
A Johnson County district judge said Forsythe was a pedophile and
ordered him to have no contact with teen-age boys - a restriction
the judge later lifted.
Forsythe, who told The Kansas City Star on Friday that he did not
know he needed to register in South Dakota, pleaded guilty Dec. 8,
1989, to attempting indecent liberties with a child.
He was sentenced to from one to five years in prison, but
released on probation after three months and sent to a Catholic
facility in New Mexico for seven months of residential treatment. He
left the priesthood in 1990.
Since January 2000, Forsythe has been minister of the
Metropolitan Community Church of the Black Hills in Rapid City, S.D.
The church is part of a growing denomination that serves
predominantly gay and lesbian worshippers.
Forsythe said he had remorse for what happened in Kansas, but
that he did not pose a threat to teen-agers today.
"I love the ministry, and I loved the priesthood," Forsythe told
the Star on Friday. "I thought I made a good priest. But I'm not
called to be celibate. And for me to be in that environment was not
Church officials said that they were aware of Forsythe's past and
that there had been no allegations of sexual misconduct against him
since he joined the denomination.
"When he was appointed here, we were told by the district
liaison," said Charles White, a lay delegate at the Rapid City
church. "We've talked about it, but it's behind him now. He's a
wonderful pastor. He made a mistake. It's all done and over."
Even so, Forsythe said he had never told the whole congregation,
which numbers about 12, of his past.
White said that there are no youth in the church now but that
there had been in the past.
Forsythe's name is not on a list of registered sex offenders,
said Glen Yellow Robe, an investigator with the Rapid City Police
Department. The penalty for not registering as a sex offender in
South Dakota is up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000,
Yellow Robe said.
Forsythe said he planned to see a lawyer this week to
The Kansas charges against Forsythe involved activities in the
Holy Cross rectory with a 15-year-old boy between May 1987 and May
The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas later paid the victim a
Forsythe became involved with the Metropolitan Community Church
while living in Denver in the early 1990s and said he told church
officials immediately of his past.
"I found the church to be very, very supportive," Forsythe said.
"The MCC is known as the church of second chances. And so I found a
very forgiving community and a very affirming community."
Last month, Metropolitan Community Church founder Troy D. Perry
reaffirmed the denomination's "zero tolerance" policy on sexual
abuse of children, in the wake of the sex abuse scandals sweeping
the Roman Catholic church.
Jim Birkett, national spokesman for the Metropolitan Community
Church, said that policy was not retroactive and therefore would not