2nd Priest Removed from Post; Sexual Allegations Hit Belleville Diocese Again

By Patricia Corrigan
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri)
March 19, 1993

A second priest in the Belleville Diocese has been removed from his parish after allegations of sexual misconduct.

The incident is alleged to have occurred more than 10 years ago and to have involved sexual misconduct with a young adult.

The Rev. James Calhoun, pastor of St. Boniface Parish in Germantown, Ill., has been asked to leave the parish where he has been for about seven years, Monsignor Bernard Sullivan said Thursday night at a meeting at the church.

Sullivan is vicar general of the Belleville Diocese.

On March 6, the Rev. Jerome Ratermann submitted his resignation as pastor of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Belleville because of allegations of sexual misconduct while he was principal at Mater Dei Catholic High School from 1964-69.

In a statement he read Thursday night at St. Boniface Church, Sullivan said Calhoun was asked to leave the parish in Germantown.

"Father needs time to deal with the allegation, and he could not do this and continue as your pastor at the same time," Sullivan said.

Sullivan made the announcement on behalf of Bishop James P. Keleher of Belleville, who is in Rome at a meeting of bishops.

"Please remember both the person bringing the allegation and Father Calhoun in your prayers, that all may find peace and healing in their lives," Sullivan said.

Departing from the prepared statement, Sullivan called upon parishioners to "be gentle, be kind, be understanding, in this season of Lent." He then led the 200 parishioners and others in the church in The Lord's Prayer.

Sullivan declined to comment further.

After the 20-minute meeting, parishioners stood in small groups, talking softly, outside the church.

Joe Langenhorst, who said he has lived in Germantown all his life, said he came to the meeting uncertain of exactly what he would hear.

"We'd heard a lot of rumors, and we'd heard about Father Ratermann, and we didn't know if the two were linked somehow," Langenhorst said. "I will say I wasn't completely surprised by what I heard."

Langenhorst said he is a member of the church's building and grounds committee, a eucharistic minister and a member of the choir.

Calhoun had served at St. Boniface for about seven years, Langenhorst said.

"People liked Father Calhoun," Langenhorst said. "Of course, you always have people with different opinions, but I think a lot of people liked him. He was a pretty decent priest."

Calhoun was last seen by his parishioners a week ago; he could not be reached Thursday night. When he didn't show up for services Sunday, some of the parishioners were not particularly concerned.

"He was a real emotional priest, kind and caring," said Mary Langenhorst, Joe Langenhorst's wife. "He left suddenly one other time, when his mother was sick."

Bob Amann was disappointed with Sullivan's brief statement.

"Alleged this and alleged that," Amann scoffed afterward. "Everything is a cover-up. Why can't they just come out and say it happened?"

Amann said he is from Belleville but he now lives in St. Louis. He said he is one of several people who spoke to Keleher about allegations of sexual abuse involving Calhoun.

"We had a bad encounter with Father Calhoun, and we came forward and told the truth," Amann said angrily. "I have no idea why everybody is being so secretive and acting as though they know nothing.

"I'm not out for a witch hunt here," he continued. "I'm not happy that someone has to be hurt over this. But the priest isn't the one who has been hurt. He did the hurting."

Amann said he thought many at the meeting did not believe that Calhoun could be guilty of sexual misconduct.

A man standing nearby, who declined to give his name, said he wished reporters "and everyone else" would just go away and "leave everything be, let Father Calhoun sort this out."

"We'll take him back any time," the man said.

"He's human," said a woman in the group. "He's human, too."


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.