Victims' Group: Archdicocese Hid Sex Crimes

By Jim Salter
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
May 3, 2007

St. Louis (AP) — Although a priest signed a written confession in 1978 admitting to sexual abuse of boys, the Archdiocese of St. Louis allowed him to continue serving parishes for more than a decade after that, a victims' rights group said today.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, planned an afternoon news conference to announce the settlement of a suit against the Rev. Donald "Duck" Straub over abuse that happened in 1973 and 1974. At the time, Straub was a seminary student working at Resurrection Parish in St. Louis. The victim was 13 when the abuse began.

SNAP officials said that in 1978, parents of other children at the parish had come forward alleging sexual abuse, prompting a confession signed by Straub and witnessed by Bishop John Wurm, since deceased.

"I acknowledge the allegations are true," Straub wrote.

Straub is now 58 and is reported to be living in St. Louis County. He has no listed phone number. A spokeswoman for the archdiocese declined to comment until she knew more about Straub's background.

Despite the confession, SNAP officials said Straub had remained an active priest through at least 1991. Ken Chackes, the attorney for the victim, said Straub had served at Our Lady Queen of Peace in House Springs in Jefferson County in 1979 and 1980, then had worked at St. Charles Borromeo from 1981 to 1986 before taking a four-year leave of absence.

He then served at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Dodge City, Kan., in 1990 and 1991. He was defrocked in 2005. What he did between 1991 and 2005 was unclear, but he did not work at any parishes, Chackes said.

SNAP officials said Straub faced allegations from at least six other accusers. Two allege abuse of children at parishes after the 1978 confession — one at St. Charles Borromeo and one at Our Lady Queen of Peace.

SNAP director David Clohessy called the 1978 document "by far the oldest and clearest evidence that the archdiocese knew about a predator and kept silent for this long."

Clohessy said, "It's one thing to say 30 years ago there were allegations against this guy. It's another to have a signed confession by him, and yet they kept him in ministry for roughly another decade — and it took them almost 20 years after that before he was defrocked."

Chackes said the victim he represented had filed suit in October. A settlement was reached April 27. Terms were withheld.

Chackes said the abuse had happened at Kenrick Seminary, at a lake house used by Straub, at Straub's parents' home, and at other locations.

Straub "would spend a lot of time with him doing fun things during the day, and then mix that with evil things at night," Chackes said.


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