ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - A settlement is reached in a civil sexual abuse case against the St. Louis Archdiocese and former priest Joseph Ross.
The deal was announced just before the case was set to go to trial this morning downtown at the Carnahan Courthouse. Jury selection was slated to start for the case. Instead, a settlement was announced at a short hearing before Judge Jimmie Edwards at 8am.
Ross was the first priest defrocked by the St. Louis Archdiocese for sexually abusing children. That happened in 2002. This latest case involved a woman now in her 20`s. She says Ross abused her when she attended St. Cronan`s parish in south city. That alleged abuse started when she was just five years old.
This morning, the Archdiocese spoke out strongly against the alleged victim known only as Jane Doe 92. Spokesperson Katie Pesha said that the Archdiocese believes the allegations against Ross made by the alleged victim are false and that criminal charges were dropped because prosecutors couldn`t prove the case. Pesha also said that the alleged victim in this case has a medical condition which causes her to falsify claims. Both the Archdiocese and the plaintiff`s attorney read statements but took no questions from reporters.
While Pesha said the Archdiocese chose to settle the case so everyone could move on, the plaintiff`s attorney, Ken Chackes, said he stands by the alleged victim and her allegations that she was raped by Ross between 1999 and 2002. Chackes also says the alleged victim was raped by another person as well.
The Archdiocese says the government chose not to prosecute that case too because of a lack of evidence. However, spokesperson Pesha said the Archdiocese is not defending Ross;acknowledging that Ross did abuse boys in the 1970s and 80s.
We`re told that terms of the settlement are not being disclosed at the request of the plaintiff. David Clohessy with SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, says he suspects the settlement involved a seven figure payout to the victim.