FBI says interviews of priest, choir director were part of investigation of ‘an individual,’ not Catholics

The FBI said Monday that its interviews with a Catholic priest and a choir director last week in Montana were part of an investigation of “an individual,” rather than the Catholic Church.

The interviews, which took place at St. Mary’s Church in Missoula, Montana, had sparked speculation that the agency was looking into possible church-related misconduct. But the FBI said in a statement Monday that the investigation was focused solely on “one individual.”

“The FBI is always investigating matters alleged to involve any kind of criminal activity, regardless of the affiliation or occupation of the individuals involved,” the statement read. “In this instance, the FBI was interviewing two individuals associated with a local church as part of an investigation of an individual.”

The statement did not provide any details about the investigation, and the agency said it was unable to comment further.

The interviews were first reported last week by Missoula TV station KECI, who said the FBI had spoken to the pastor, the Rev. Robert J. Kennedy, and a choir director who were both associated with St. Mary’s.

The Catholic Church has come under increased scrutiny over its handling of decades of allegations of sexual assault and misconduct by its priests. Last week, the church released a national report detailing abuse and cover-ups that occurred in six of its dioceses.