Belleville Priest Leaves Post; Sexual Misconduct Alleged

By Robert Kelly
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri)
March 9, 1993

Allegations of sexual misconduct have caused a priest to resign as pastor of Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church in Belleville.

The Rev. Jerome Ratermann submitted his resignation over the weekend at the request of Bishop James Keleher of the Belleville Diocese.

The Rev. James Margason, who was appointed as administrator of the parish, said Monday that the bishop believed that Ratermann "couldn't give the time and energy needed to the parish during the investigation" of the allegations.

Margason said church officials had yet to determine whether any of the allegations were true. He said that parishioners were shocked at Ratermann's resignation but that church events and classes at Blessed Sacrament Elementary School were continuing as usual on Monday.

Keleher said in a statement that the diocese had investigated a similar complaint against Ratermann six years ago but had found no reason then to request the priest's resignation. But recently more allegations were made, and the bishop said that as a result "I feel I have to relieve Father (Ratermann) of all his pastoral duties."

Keleher said all of the complaints involved matters that allegedly happened more than 20 years ago. He said no one had accused Ratermann of any sexual misconduct during his seven years as pastor of Blessed Sacrament, 8707 West Main Street.

Keleher and Ratermann were unavailable for comment Monday.

A spokeswoman for the diocese said no information would be made public about the nature of the allegations, how many complaints were made or when incidents allegedly occurred. Diocesan policy is to protect the privacy of all involved, she said.

Keleher announced at weekend Masses at Blessed Sacrament that Ratermann had resigned and would be replaced indefinitely by Margason. The bishop said Ratermann "is willingly cooperating with this decision and has left the parish."

Keleher said he asked for the resignation because parishioners "must not feel there is the possibility of harm."


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