Man Sues Priest, Alleges Sexual Abuse; Suit 2nd against Archdiocese in 2 Days

By Kathryn Rogers
St. Louis Post-Dispatch [Missouri]
June 10, 1994

A St. Louis County man has sued a Roman Catholic priest, claiming the priest sexually abused him in the late 1960s.

The St. Louis Archdiocese placed the priest, the Rev. James L. Gummersbach, on administrative leave in April after learning of the allegations against him. In a suit filed in St. Louis Circuit Court Thursday, a man identified only as "James Doe" says Gummersbach, then at Annunziata parish in Ladue, began molesting him in 1968, when the plaintiff was 15.

Gummersbach's most recent job was as chaplain at Deaconess Hospital.

The suit is the second filed against the archdiocese in the last two days alleging sexual abuse by priests more than 20 years ago. A suit filed Wednesday accused James Beine, who was removed from the priesthood in 1977, of sexually abusing two boys.

In a news conference Thursday, Archbishop Justin F. Rigali said allegations of sexual abuse "make particularly heavy the heart of the whole church."

He would not comment on the suits specifically. But he said "the whole archdiocese is committed to the pursuit of truth and justice in all such cases."

In the Gummersbach case, "James Doe" says he was molested from 1968 to 1970 but did not remember the incidents until last March, when he sought counseling from a psychiatrist.

Both the Gummersbach and Beine suits seek unspecified damages in excess of $ 25,000 from each of the defendants, which include Rigali, the archdiocese, the parish where the abuse allegedly occurred and the accused priests.

In the suit against Beine, two men identified as "R. Doe" and "T. Roe" say the priest began abusing them in 1967, when he was at St. Peter Catholic Church, 324 South Third Street, St. Charles.

Archdiocesan spokesmen would not say why Beine was removed from the priesthood. Beine now runs St. John Center, a youth hostel, from his home in Incline Village north of Foristell in Warren County.

Beine, who says he is a bishop of a church called the Old Catholic Church in North America, could not be reached for comment Wednesday or Thursday.

A brochure for St. John Center, which also has done business as St. John Bosco Center, says the center tries to help youths live up to their potential. Incline Village residents say children from the inner-city of St. Louis frequently stay with Beine there.

Michael Laschober of Arnold, secretary of the St. John Center nonprofit corporation, said he did not know where the children came from. He called Beine "a wonderful counselor."

"He's been a model for many of us," Laschober said. "It's great sport to pick on someone for something that happened years ago. I know he was a wonderful man then and that he is still."


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