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  Man Wants Diocese to Pay Bills; Abuse Accuser Says Church Is Responsible for Therapy

By Ralph Dummit
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
February 7, 1994

Kevin Mohr says he has spent 11 months trying to get the Catholic Diocese of Belleville to pay for therapy he needed as the result of abuse he said he suffered in the early 1980s from a ring of homosexual priests.

Mohr, 31, of New Athens, Ill., said that church officials had agreed last March to pay for his treatment. "I thought the church would help me, but it has been just the opposite," he said at a news conference Sunday at the St. Louis office of his lawyer, Michael J. Hoare.

"I am angry and I feel betrayed," Mohr said. Mohr decided last week to let his name be used in connection with his allegations.

The church has offered "to assist Mr. Mohr with counseling," said the Rev. James E. Margason, administrator of the Belleville diocese. He said the nature of the counseling was to have been determined at a future date.

The church stopped communicating with Mohr after he hired a lawyer, Margason said Sunday. Mohr's lawyer "would not let him speak to us, and we have to speak to him through an attorney," Margason said.

Mohr, who as a boy had wanted to become a priest, said that his sexual abuse by priests began when he was 13 and had a job in the gift shop of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows. The shop, he said, was where he and other teen-age boys were pressed into service to solicit homosexuals as sexual partners for the priests.

"I was raped, I was fondled, I was sexually harassed," he said. "I was forced to parade around public parks, especially Tower Grove Park, (to entice homosexuals) as the priests sat in their cars."

Margason said he could not discuss the background of the case since he had become administrator in the diocese only last September. A deacon who helped run the gift shop is on leave because of allegations of sexual misconduct.

With his therapy bills mounting to more than $ 165,000, Mohr stopped his treatments, even though his doctors at River Oaks Hospital in New Orleans had told him that he needed three to five more years of counseling.

Hoare said Sunday that Mohr had no plans to sue the church. Hoare said he had sent bills repeatedly to the church and that the only response was that "they say they need more information."

Appearing with Mohr Sunday was David Clohessy of St. Louis, the national director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. He said, "We've seen these allegations over and over again."

He said he felt sorry for the parishioners of the Belleville Diocese, where eight priests have been removed after being accused of sexual misconduct and a ninth has stepped down.

 
 

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