Former Priest Accused of Seduction in Lawsuit

By Charles Bosworth Jr
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
August 25, 1994

A woman from Godfrey has charged that a former priest in Madison County seduced her into having a sexual relationship when she was 15.

The woman, Carol J. Eason, 42, filed an 11-count suit in Edwardsville charging that Robert Dodd, now a lawyer in Champaign, Ill., manipulated her into sexual relations when she was a student at St. Paul's Catholic School in Highland.

The sexual relations continued even after her mother complained to diocese officials, the suit says.

In addition to Dodd, Eason sued St. Paul's Parish, the Roman Catholic Diocese in Springfield and Bishop Daniel Ryan. Eason is seeking money for compensatory damages from all of them, and punitive damages from Dodd.

Dodd, who the diocese said left the priesthood more than 20 years ago, could not be reached for comment.

The executive manager of St. Paul's Parish, S.C. Kerchner, said he was aware of the suit but could not comment.

Kathie Sass, director of the office for communications at the diocese, said the diocese had not been served with the suit but was aware of the allegations. She said that she could not comment on the allegations but that the diocese would offer pastoral assistance to anyone involved.

The suit, filed Friday, says it was last year before Eason connected the sexual encounters to emotional and psychological problems that damaged her ability to earn a living and conduct a normal life.

Eason lived in Edwardsville and was a 15-year-old student at St. Paul's in Highland when she went to Dodd for counseling in 1966, the suit says. It cotends that Dodd "seduced and manipulated her into engaging into sexual intercourse" several times a week at his quarters in the rectory, and at the church, the school, his car and her home.

The suit says Eason's mother learned of the activities in the spring of 1968 and complained to officials at the diocese, who told her Dodd would be reprimanded and transferred.

But that did not happen until August 1968, the suit says, and then he was transferred to the Religious Center at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, where Eason lived.

The suit charges that the sexual activities continued for another two years there, and even for a while after Dodd was transferred to Pana, Ill.

Their sexual relations stopped only after Dodd married his former parish secretary, according to the suit.


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