Judge orders Archdiocese to turn over record of sex abuse complaints

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) –  “There have been real wrongs of clergy at the highest levels.” Those words today from St. Louis Circuit Judge Robert Dierker as he upheld his own order in a sex abuse suit involving a now defrocked Archdiocese of St. Louis priest.

The civil suit surrounds allegations that Father Joseph Ross abused a then five year old girl from 1997 to 2001 at a south city parish.

SNAP, or the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, demonstrated outside the Carnahan Courthouse before the hearing. They held pictures of members who say they were abused in other cases.

Judge Dierker ruled in May that the Archdiocese must produce 20 years worth of records for any of its employees who had complaints of sexual abuse against them.
Attorneys for the Archdiocese argued that was too long. On Friday,  Dierker stood by 20 years for clergy but reduced the timeframe for non-clergy employees to five years.

SNAP members spoke out against the archdiocese.

“I think what it shows is church officials are still very committed to secrecy in these cases and to disclosing virtually nothing unless they`re ordered to,” said ‘SNAP’ director David Clohessy.

The Archdiocese released a statement reading in part, “The breadth of this order appears to include allegations against lay employees and clergy that were not found to be credible. The archdiocese will consult with its attorneys in this lawsuit regarding next steps based on the court`s ruling.”

For ‘SNAP,’ the Archdiocese`s efforts in this case point tolarger problem of how the church treats victims.

“Church officials are willing to try almost any legal tactic they can dream up to intimidate victims and witnesses and whistle blowers into staying silent,” said Clohessy.

Archdiocese attorneys are also trying to get emails that the victim sent to both SNAP and a rape crisis center.

The victim is now in her early 20’s.

Judge Dierker has not ruled on that yet.

The archdiocese has 30 days to produce the other records. This would be the first time ever that records like these would ever be produced. They would be given to the victim’s attorneys.

The trial is set for February.

In a separate case, Ross was convicted of sexually assaulting an 11 year old boy at a St. Louis church during confession back in 1988.

6 comments

  • Barbara Dorris

    Now is the time to step forward if you were hurt by Fr. Ross or any Catholic employee. And now’s the time to speak up if you saw or suspected misdeeds by Fr. Ross or any Catholic employee.

    Fr. Ross was convicted in 1988 of molesting a boy. Catholic officials kept it quiet and put him into another parish but warned no one. Then, from 1997-2001, he molested this girl. Now, she’s bravely trying to expose the Catholic officials who knowingly put her and her friends in harm’s way.

    Please help her. Please pick up the phone. Tell someone you trust. Call a therapist or a cop or a prosecutor or us. (Please do NOT call church officials. That’s when the cover up intensifies.) But please do something.

    Barbara Dorris
    Outreach Director for SNAP
    314-862-7688
    SNAPdorris@gmail.com

  • Judy Jones

    The victim of Father Joseph Ross.is to be commended for her courage in speaking up and taking action about being sexually abused, which is not an easy thing to do. But let’s hope that anyone who may have knowledge or may have been harmed by Ross, will come forward and contact law enforcement, not the church officials. They are not the proper officials to be investigating child sex crimes.
    Sex abuse thrives in secrecy and secret systems that allow it to continue to this day
    Silence only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511. snapjudy@gmail.com,
    “SNAP (The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

  • ByeByeToTheRite

    Here again, the farce that is our justice system lets us down. So these priests molest young boys for years, yet get every break from the justice system. Yet ordinary guys go to prison 10 years for having a few dirty pics of minors on their computers. Go figure the discrepency. As usual, it’s because of one thing: the church has a LOT of money. YOUR money, if you’re foolish enough to give it to them.

  • Annonymous

    Who decided that the allegations were not creditable, the Catholic Church or the police? There is a big difference between “not creditable and not enough information to prosecute”. Also, where is Ross? No one seems to know or is not telling. It would benefit all who live near this man to know that he is in their area. Why isn’t anyone coming forward with that info?

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