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Men Sue Former St. Louis Priest

May 21, 2004 | AP

Lawsuits filed yesterday accuse a St. Louis-area priest of sexually abusing two boys, one in the 1970s, the other in the 1980s. Meanwhile, the leader of an organization that aids victims of abuse by priests believes there were other victims.

Both lawsuits allege abuse by the Rev. Donald Straub - known as "Father Duck." David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said at least six other people have said they also were abused by Straub, 55, who now lives in St. Louis County.

"Our concern is that tonight he may be baby-sitting his next-door neighbor’s kids," Clohessy said. "A change of occupation does not cure a child molester."

Besides Straub, both lawsuits name the Archdiocese of St. Louis and Archbishop Raymond Burke. Straub did not return a phone call seeking an interview.

The archdiocese said yesterday that Straub was removed from ministry in St. Louis in 1987. The archdiocese apologized to anyone who was harmed by Straub and urged victims to contact its offices or the city attorney for help.

Straub was ordained a priest in 1975 and spent most of his career at three St. Louis-area locations - St. George parish in south St. Louis County, Our Lady Queen of Peace parish in House Springs and St. Charles Borromeo parish in St. Charles.

The archdiocese said it received sexual abuse complaints about Straub in 1978 and removed him from St. George to undergo treatment. In 1979, he was returned to ministry. In 1986, the archdiocese received complaints against him at St. Charles Borromeo.

The archdiocese said he was removed and underwent extensive treatment until 1990. He worked briefly for the Diocese of Dodge City, Kan., which received full disclosure of his background. He returned to St. Louis a few months later, in January 1991, unhappy with his Kansas assignment. The archdiocese reimposed his suspension in St. Louis, which remains in effect.

Rome is considering the St. Louis archdiocese’s attempts to have him defrocked.

The archdiocese said it would not have reassigned Straub after therapy today based on what is now known about repeat violations of abuse.

In one lawsuit, a man in his 40s who is now a police officer at an unspecified Missouri location said Straub began abusing him at age 8 in the mid-1970s. The lawsuit said the abuse occurred over a two-year period at the St. George rectory and at a lake house in St. Clair.

The second lawsuit was filed by a man in his 30s, now of Philadelphia. His parents, of Missouri, joined the suit.

The lawsuit alleges abuse on more than a dozen occasions from 1980 to 1982, starting at age 11. The boy and his family attended the parish in House Springs, where Straub was serving at the time.

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