Predator Priest Case Settles
July 7, 2014
The brave, strong young woman who was abused by Fr. Joseph D. Ross, because Catholic officials protected him, has settled her civil case against the archdiocese.
We have the deepest admiration for this incredibly courageous young woman who prevailed against a mean-spirited onslaught by lawyers for Archbishop Robert Carlson. Her courage will inspire others to get help and expose Catholic officials who commit and conceal heinous crimes against children.
(Two-four SNAP members will discuss the settlement at 2 p.m. today outside the Cathedral on Lindell in the Central West End.)
Through this suit, she forced Archbishop Robert Carlson to disclose thousands of pages of long-secret church records about child molesting priests, nuns, seminarians and brothers.
Through this suit, she has shown that there are far more local church clerics and staff who have been accused of assaulting kids. Documents obtained through this suit reveal that at least 115 St. Louis Catholic priests and other employees have been accused of molesting children.
(Until this suit, the public knew of 51 proven, admitted and credibly accused St. Louis area predator priests and nuns, thanks to BishopAccountability.org, an online research and archive group.)
Through this suit, we suspect she has wrested millions from the archdiocese (though the amount of the settlement is confidential and we have no solid information about it). Given the horrific facts of this case, and the size of settlements in similar cases, we are confident in this estimate. Hopefully, that financial penalty might make one or two Catholic officials think twice before acting recklessly, callously, and deceitfully again in future clergy sex abuse cases.
And if anyone is uncertain about whether this priest assaulted this girl, ponder why Archbishop Carlson is willing to pay so much money to her, and to prevent her evidence from surfacing in court.
For decades, Catholic officials protected Ross despite his long and sordid history of sex crimes and misconduct. We suspect that dozens of families have suffered and are suffering because Carlson and his predecessors refused – and still refuse - to help law enforcement charge and convict this serial predator. If anyone is uncertain about whether local Catholic officials have reformed or are reforming on abuse, ponder why there's precious little outreach to abuse victims in church pulpits bulletins and elsewhere.
We are sickened that Carlson claims that this brave woman is not credible. We believe her and we know that many others do too, especially many who have tons of experience with child sex abuse victims (including her therapists and attorneys).
In 2010, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce said that her office had "full confidence in the victim's allegations" but did not feel it had sufficient evidence to proceed at trial.
We hope this settlement comforts at least some of the hundreds of families who have suffered and are suffering because St. Louis Catholic officials refused and refuse to remove child molesting clerics or call the police about them.
We are glad this victim has been spared a trial. But settlements like this are a mixed bag. On one hand, a resolution like this usually helps victims move forward. At the same time, however, it prevents the complicity of Catholic officials from being publicly exposed in court.
Carlson claims he doesn't know where Ross is. We don't believe him. (KWMU reports he lives in Little Rock.)
We do believe, however, that Carlson and his staff have a moral and civic duty to warn others about Ross and aggressively seek out others who saw, suspected or suffered his crimes. He may assault a child today. And responsible action by Carlson could prevent that. Carlson's predecessors recruited, trained, ordained, hired, transferred, and shielded Ross. Now Carlson and his staff have a responsibility to ensure no other children are hurt by this dangerous man. We are worried that Ross is living among unsuspecting families in Arkansas.
It’s not too late for others who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes to come forward, expose predators, protect kids and start healing. It’s always tempting to keep quiet about child sex crimes – whether known or suspected. However, it’s also always irresponsible. Kids are only safe when adults are brave and caring enough to speak up.
Finally, there are at least two other pending civil child sex abuse lawsuits pending against Carlson and his archdiocese that are clearly within the statute of limitations and could result in trials. One involves the suicide of a young victim of Fr. Bryan Kuchar. The other involves Fr. Joseph Jiang, a close friend of Archbishop Robert Carlson.
The question now for “Can't Recall” Carlson is this: Will he aggressively seek out others who were hurt by Ross? Or will he continue to hide behind his lawyers, his PR staff and every legal loophole and do nothing to find and help others who were assaulted by this dangerous man?