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UPDATE: St. Louis Archdiocese and Defrocked Priest Head to Trial Today on Sex Abuse Cover-Up

josephross2.jpg
Joseph Ross
Update 9:11 a.m.: The case settled this morning prior to the start of trial. Ken Chackes, the attorney for Jane Doe, is to make a statement later today. More as it develops.

Update 9:42 a.m.: In a prepared statement, attorney Ken Chackes confirmed that the case was settled. And, in terms of the settlement, could (and would) only state the following:

We stand by our client and her allegations that she was raped by Fr. Ross in 1999-2002 while Jane Doe 92 was a parishioner at St. Cronan's Church. We also stand by her allegations that she was raped by another person. Some of Jane Doe 92's therapists support her account.

Victimization is a terrible thing and what this young lady has experienced should never happen to any person.

We believe a jury would have ultimately found that Fr. Ross raped Jane Doe 92. We must, however, take action to preserve her health and well-being. We agree with the Archdiocese that there is no healing for Jane Doe 92 that would come from a three week trial of these difficult and personal facts.

We believe in and applaud the courage of Jane Doe 92 and her decision to avoid the rigors of trial and begin the healing process. Her efforts through this case have already brought awareness in this community about the sordid history of Ross and how it was handled by the Archdiocese.

Through that we hope this community is safer.

Today's original story follows...

Nearly three years after it was first filed, a civil suit alleging sex abuse and a church cover-up heads to trial today.

The historic case -- one of just a few local Catholic sex-abuse cases to make it to trial -- accuses the Archdiocese of St. Louis of reckless negligence in placing a convicted child molester in a church where it knew he was likely to abuse again. And that's exactly what happened, according to a woman -- now in her early twenties -- who says she was sexually assaulted for years at the hands of Joseph Ross, the former priest of St. Cronan Church in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood.

See also: Former St. Cronan Priest Accused of Molesting Parishioner

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St. Cronan Church where Joseph Ross is accused of molesting Jane Doe.

In 1988, prior to being installed as pastor at St. Cronan, Ross pleaded guilty to molesting a boy while working at Christ the King Church in University City. The archdiocese later sent Ross to St. Luke Institute, a Maryland center that treats priests for sexual disorders, before assigning him to St. Cronan.

It was while at St. Cronan in the late 1990s and early 2000s that Ross is accused of molesting Jane Doe, with the abuse beginning while the child was five or six and lasting until the age of nine. According to the lawsuit, Ross told the girl he was disciplining her on behalf of God and that she was helping him overcome his sexuality because he "liked boys more than girls." Some of the sexual abuse -- which allegedly included hand-to-genital, genital-to-genital and object-to-genital contact -- occurred while the victim was in Ross' care as her mother attended choir practice.

See also: Inside the Archdiocese's Matrix

In 2010, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce dropped charges against Ross, stating that while her office had "full confidence in the victim's allegations," it did not feel it had sufficient evidence to proceed at trial. Enter the civil suit, which begins trial today. Where prosecutors may have felt their hands tied for lack of evidence, attorneys in the civil suit scored a major coup earlier this year when the courts forced the archdiocese to hand over its secret list of its priests and employees accused of sexually abusing minors. The so-called "matrix" indicates some 115 employees of the archdiocese stood accused of molesting minors from 1983 to 2003.

Jane Doe's attorneys will use this list in an attempt to try to demonstrate to the jury a pattern wherein the archdiocese shifted accused priests from one parish to another in reckless disregard of what could happen.

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6 comments
Luke Rheaume
Luke Rheaume

Following the Out-of-Court, Secret (Gagged), settlement of the Law Suit brought by Jane Doe 92 against the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, we again see the true colors of the Archdiocese. While the Pope is meeting with Abuse Survivors, Apologizing, and Asking for Forgiveness, the Archdiocese is out attacking the most vulnerable among us – the young woman that they just settled with. Shame on you Archbishop Carlson and the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. The Church claims that it was founded by Jesus, who stood up for the poor and oppressed in his ministry on earth. Where is the Compassion of Jesus in the Church? As I see it, the Church LOST the Ministry of Jesus and has become an UNCARING BIG BUSINESS. A Business that preaches for us to be caring, compassionate, and forgiving, but does not practice what it preaches in its own actions and affairs. It’s now time to speak out about the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. To tell them with our feet and with our pockets, that their actions that abuse people are not in the Ministry of Jesus and if they want our support, they need to make amends for their actions. I stand against the Abuse of the Church. I stand with Jesus in compassion and caring with the oppressed.

Chris Palazzolo
Chris Palazzolo

Ross served at St. William during the seventies. I went to grade school there and served Mass for him many times. He molested at least two of my friends, maybe more. He did not try anything with me, I was not the type to allow such a thing and he must have known it. I understand he was sent to our parish because of he was accused of molesting someone at his previous one. This is now the fourth article I have seen since the 70's accusing him of sexual misconduct. When does it stop? How can Catholics support this, knowing that their weekly offering may be used to defend a pervert such as Ross?

clpalazzolo
clpalazzolo

This priest served at my grade school back in the 70's.  He was to sent our parish after he was accused of sexual misconduct.  He molested at least two of my friends. I served Mass for him many times.  He did not pull anything with me as I would have punched his nutsack and told my parents.  He prayed on the weak.  This is the fourth article I have read since then about him molesting people.  The Catholic Church has become a joke because of this. It is tied to the vow of celibacy which is patently ridiculous.  The church has become a haven for freaks like Ross and for this reason I have been driven away from the church.  For my weekly offering to provide defense for a pervert such as this angers me to the core.

snapjudy
snapjudy

This brave girl is to be commended for helping to expose some the ugly truth within the St Louis Archdiocese. We hope she can feel a sense of relief and start to heal.

quoted: "So why not let all of that come out in open court?"--- 
Settling sex abuse cases right before the trial begins, is a common typical practice that church officials do in order to keep themselves out of court. Bishop Carlson has no problem paying money to hurting victims rather than being subpoenaed to sit on the witness stand again. The church officials will do anything (even try to discredit the victims) so they can keep their power and their image in tact.
Let's hope that anyone who may have knowledge or may have been harmed by Joseph D. Ross or anyone within the St Louis Archdiocese, will find the courage to come forward, get help, and contact law enforcement, no matter when it happened. It is extremely rare that a child predator has only one victim. Some have many. Child predators need to be kept far away from kids forever, and it's never too late to come forward about being sexually abused.

Your 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


dalediversity
dalediversity topcommenter

Why would the church settle? There was no molestation. That doesn't happen anymore  

snapclohessy
snapclohessy

@clpalazzolo - I'd love to chat with you, briefly and confidentially, if you are willing. David Clohessy, SNAP, 314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com

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