ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- The Missouri Supreme Court Wednesday ordered the St. Louis Archdiocese to turn over the names of more than 100 priests suspected of sexually abusing children over decades.
The names of the priests will be sealed, available only to the attorneys for a woman suing the archdiocese. She claims she was sexually abused by a priest starting when she was five years old and that the list of names going back to the 1980's will show the archdiocese has a decades-old pattern of covering up for pedophile priests.
The Archdiocese was first ordered to turn over the names by a St. Louis Circuit Court Judge in November. But the archdiocese repeatedly appealed saying it was concerned with the privacy of both the accused and the victims. Following Wednesday's Missouri Supreme Court ruling, the archdiocese says it will turn over the names, covering over 200separate incidents dating back to the 1980's. In a statement, the Archdiocese said in part:
“The Archdiocese had litigated to protect the privacy rights of all concerned, including victims who had no connection to the current litigation and who had expressed anonymity regarding their reported allegation. The request for information includes not only names, but also addresses and phone numbers."
The lawyer for the woman suing the archdiocese replied:
"(This) will make it much more difficult for this archdiocese and others to keep their secrets and continue to enable known pedophiles to hurt children."
The priest accused by the woman in this lawsuit, Father Joseph Ross, was de-frocked by the church, but never prosecuted in this case. Father Ross received probation in 1988 after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy.