Priest Abused Them, Two Charge in Suit

St. Louis Post-Dispatch [Missouri]
December 16, 2004

Two men filed a lawsuit Wednesday claiming that a Roman Catholic priest, Robert F. Johnston, sexually abused them as young teenagers at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Valley Park.

In 2002, the church removed Johnston as pastor of Our Lady of Providence parish in Crestwood after a victim came forward and Johnston admitted abusing the boy more than 20 years before.

It's unclear whether that victim is one of the two men who filed the lawsuit. Timothy Dempsey, 41, of Pacific, claims that Johnston repeatedly molested him from 1977 to 1980.

The second man, listed as John Doe in the lawsuit, alleges similar acts during the same period. He is in his 40s and lives in St. Charles.

The suit, filed in St. Louis Circuit Court, also names the St. Louis Archdiocese and Archbishop Raymond Burke as defendants.

The archdiocese issued a statement that noted that Johnston, 68, "lives in a monitored environment and is not permitted to exercise any form of public ministry."

Johnston, who lives in a St. Louis retirement facility, could not be reached for comment.


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