A long-haul truck driver from Coeur d’Alene who also served as a church youth camp counselor is suspected of raping and abusing underage boys in Spokane and Kootenai counties over the past decade.
Kevin G. Sloniker, 30, faces felony charges of rape and lewd conduct involving two underage boys and is a suspect in the sexual abuse of at least eight other boys, according to court documents. He’s being held in the Kootenai County Jail on $1 million bond.
Sloniker met and befriended some of the boys in his role as a youth camp counselor at Immaculate Conception Church in Post Falls, according to investigative reports filed with 1st District Court in Kootenai County.
Some of the alleged abuse occurred at Sloniker’s parents’ home in Latah, south of Spokane, and some happened when he took boys on the road with him around the Western U.S., according to court records.
He was arrested on a warrant Sept. 14 in Menomonie, Wisconsin, and extradited to Kootenai County, where he was booked into jail Oct. 9. Sloniker is charged with two counts of felony lewd conduct and one count of felony rape. Additional charges are possible, prosecutors in Kootenai and Spokane counties say.
Sloniker made his first court appearance Friday, when his bond was set by 1st District Magistrate Barry Watson. He does not yet have an attorney.
In an Oct. 9 interview with police, Sloniker admitted to fondling nine boys, having oral sex with a few of them and raping one over the past 10 years. He said he wanted help for an addiction to touching young boys.
Because Sloniker is accused of taking boys across state lines to abuse them, he also may face federal charges.
Sloniker allegedly raped and assaulted one Coeur d’Alene boy repeatedly over the past six years, starting when the victim was about 11 years old and living near Airway Heights, according to a criminal complaint. Sloniker was a family friend and later moved in with the boy’s mother, the victim told a police detective. He also said Sloniker pressured him to bring his two cousins to Sloniker’s apartment so he could molest them as well.
Sloniker also is charged with lewd and lascivious conduct with a 9-year-old boy from Newport, Washington. That boy told detectives Sloniker fondled him during an overnight stay at the suspect’s residence last April.
Witnesses told investigators Sloniker liked to spend time with kids much younger than him and would buy them lavish gifts. He was involved in youth camps at Immaculate Conception Church, which is part of the Society of Saint Pius X, a traditionalist group with no canonical standing in the Roman Catholic Church.
One boy said he attended the church’s Immaculate Conception Academy, and that Sloniker was involved with a group of boys who attended the K-12 school in Post Falls. Sloniker also taught boys how to be altar boys through the Guild of St. Stephen, an international organization of altar servers, investigators learned.
Some parents told police they knew of or strongly suspected the abuse and advised others to keep their kids away from Sloniker. In some cases Sloniker lived for a time with the families of his alleged victims.
One alleged victim told a detective that Sloniker took him on a long trip in his truck through seven Western states when the boy was between 10 and 15 years old. Sloniker sexually assaulted him repeatedly during the journey, the boy stated.
Another boy said he spent one summer at the Latah farm when he was about 12. Sloniker’s attention escalated to nightly sexual abuse, and Sloniker also hit him with a whip, he told police.
Several of those interviewed said they reported their concerns to the priests at Immaculate Conception Church. The boy who said he was whipped by Sloniker said he shared that with Father Patrick Crane. He also told the priest that Sloniker made him strip naked.
Crane, who now is with another Society of Saint Pius X church – Our Lady of Sorrows in Phoenix – was interviewed by a detective Sept. 22. He said Sloniker worked with the church camp from 2003 to 2006 and that he did not have any issues with him.
When the detective shared that one of the alleged victims said he had told Crane about Sloniker whipping him, “Crane said he remembers part of it, but it was mostly because (the boy) did not want to attend the camp.”
Crane added that he remembers not asking Sloniker back after that, and also told the detective that if something had been brought forward, he would have said something “because this was during the time the church was being looked into for other abuse allegations across America,” the detective wrote.
Others said they warned Father James Haynos and Father Paul Vassal at the church about Sloniker.
Neither Vassal, the headmaster at the church, nor Crane returned calls for comment Monday.
The detective learned that Sloniker had attended St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary, also part of the Society of St. Pius X, in Winona, Minnesota. Vassal said in an Oct. 2 interview with police that the seminary in 2005 deemed Sloniker to be mentally unstable after he tried to circumcise himself. He was removed from the seminary program.
There were no known incidents of sexual abuse by Sloniker back then, Vassal told police.
Haynos, who now lives in Kansas, told Coeur d’Alene police Detective Nicholas Lowry he was unaware of the sex abuse allegations against Sloniker. “Haynos also told me due to Sloniker’s unstable mindset he would never be put in a position in which he would be in charge of kids,” the detective wrote.
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