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St. Louis Man Sues Priest, Archdiocese And Archbishop In Sexual Abuse Claim

Mar 3, 2004 | AP A St. Louis-area man sued a Roman Catholic priest, the St. Louis archdiocese and its archbishop Wednesday, accusing the priest of raping him in the early 1970s and the church of conspiring to conceal the cleric's sexual offenses.

The lawsuit, filed in St. Louis Circuit Court, alleged that the priest raped "John Doe TF" when he was 11 during an overnight stay in the priest's residence at St. George Parish in south St. Louis County.

An attorney for the accuser, said the priest had a long, close relationship with the family, whom he had been counseling.

He said the priest invited the child to spend the weekend with him, but made a point to say the sleepover could only happen when another priest who lived in the rectory was out of town, Chackes said.

Th said that when his client called his mother in the middle of the night to take him home, the priest later convinced her nothing had happened. She now believes her son, the family attorney said.

The suit accuses the archdiocese of knowing of a pattern of abuse by the priest and doing nothing to stop it. Chackes claimed archdiocesan officials moved the priest from parish to parish because they knew he was a problem. He said the priest has other victims.

In a written statement, the alleged victim, now in his 40s, said he filed the lawsuit "for the little boy who sat on the balcony at St. George's crying for his mother to hurry and pick him up" and for other children at risk of sexual abuse.

The archdiocese declined to discuss the lawsuit, citing its policy not to comment on pending litigation.

But in a written statement, the archdiocese said the priest was removed from active priestly ministry in May 1995, after church officials learned of an allegation of abuse of a minor against the priest that had occurred 20 years earlier.

The priest, who was evaluated and admitted to a treatment program, now lives in a "monitored environment," forbidden to exercise any form of public ministry.

The 68-year-old priest has not been defrocked; archdiocesan spokesman Jim Orso said "it's only a matter of time."

Since his ordination in 1961, the priest served at seven parishes in St. Louis County, St. Louis city and Festus. He served stints of six, two, seven, four and five years each.

A spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said his office is reviewing the case, awaiting some records.

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