ST. LOUIS – Carol Kuhnert says she has proof that her brother, a former priest, was a child predator. Her proof? The Roman Catholic Church’s own documents. She obtained the records because they are from her brother’s personnel file.
Kuhnert’s brother, Norman Christian, is a former priest who was just outed last month by St. Louis Archdiocese as a priest with “substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.”
“It just seemed like everybody was talking about – ‘Oh Norman…he’s in the seminary. He’s going to be a priest,’” she said.
Christian died in 2004. His sister says he left behind a legacy of ruined lives the church would not acknowledge until just two weeks ago.
“The church wouldn’t do anything about it,” Kuhnert said. “This is what he did. This must have been when he was outgoing around picking up kids and he (continued to serve).”
The church records show Christian served at St. Peters in Kirkwood, Ascension Parish in Normandy, Sacred Heart in Festus, St. William in Woodson Terrace, and St. George’s in Affton.
“He took this boy to his room at the rectory, right there on Heege Road—St. George’s Parish—and molested him,” she said.
Kuhnert obtained a 1995 church personnel file, which notes a boy “molested in rectory 10 or 11 times. Says (Father Christian) did to him ‘what happens in prison.’” The file adds (Father Christian) reports sexually abusing approximately 12 persons…(between) 1963 and 1986.”
Kuhnert says her own relatives never believed it because she said the church never acknowledged it publicly.
“They will not just be open and transparent and just say what’s going on,” she said.
In May 1995, another document shows the church removed him from “active priestly ministry,” while a memo from The Catholic Center to Christian’s supervisors January 1996 advises to, “… Not disclose more than he judges necessary…” The memo continues, “He could handle this by stating that he has asked for an extended medical leave.”
Kuhnert added: “In other words: lie to them. Just tell them you’re sick; the stress is bad.”
Kuhnert says her brother continued getting paid by the church until 2002. She showed Fox 2 a letter from then-Father Timothy Dolan. It reads, “As of April 1, 2002, you will no longer receive salary from the Archdiocese.”
The money was important to her brother because Kuhnert found documents revealing her brother had been paying off one of his victims. The paper trail shows $450 a month to pay a $9,000 settlement.
Kuhnert thought the victim needed more than money. She found him and offered to help him confront her brother.
“He said ‘I don’t have the courage…’ He could not…he said, ‘My legs wouldn’t hold me up,” she said. “I wish I could but I couldn’t.”
Kuhnert said her brother lived off free rent at Regina Clery in Webster Groves until he died in 2004.
She published a book—“No Longer on Pedestals”—containing every church document and personal letter in her brother’s case.
The new list of clergy members with substantiated complaints is under a new approach. The church says it’s a way to be more open along with “A Promise to Protect.”