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  Dallas Priest Accused Here of Sexual Abuse Won't Stop Ministry

By Patricia Rice
St. Louis Post-Dispatch [Missouri]
November 14, 1998

• He has disobeyed his bishop's orders to stop associating with young men, a newspaper says.

A Catholic priest who was accused of sexual misconduct with young men when he lived in St. Louis years ago is refusing his Texas bishop's directions to stop associating with young people, according to a Dallas newspaper. He refuses to end his Internet ministry, the newspaper said.

In 1994, the Rev. Kenneth Roberts was accused by two St. Louisans of sexual misconduct here about 15 years earlier.

This week, Roberts defied orders from Bishop Charles V. Grahmann of Dallas to stop overseeing an Internet online club for young Catholics contemplating religious careers, the Dallas Morning News reported Friday. Roberts also has been moderating a Catholic group for America Online and has hosted radio and television programs. He is best known as the author of the book "From Playboy to Priest."

Spokeswoman Lisa LeMaster said the Dallas diocese is checking reports that he has celebrated public Masses. If the reports are verified, Roberts could be suspended this weekend, LeMaster told the Morning News. That wou ld result in a ban on exercising his priestly powers.

Roberts, 68, declined to comment, telling the Dallas newspaper by e-mail that he was suffering from high blood pressure. Ann Waters, a spokeswoman for the priest, said Roberts denies sexual misconduct allegations made against him in the past decade by people in the St. Louis and Peoria, Ill., areas.

Officials at the Dallas diocese concede making payments to two of the priest's male accusers.

Roberts has been a Dallas diocesan priest since ordination in 1966. Former parishioners told the newspaper he was forced out of Fort Worth and Garland, Texas, parishes in the late 1960s and came to St. Louis for psychiatric treatment.

In 1968, he obtained permission to say Mass, hear confessions and preach here. He wrote books and produced audiotapes, videotapes and magazine articles about children in the Bosnian community of Medjugorje who reported they saw a vision of Mary, the mother of Jesus. While not assigned to a parish here, he sometimes said Mass at South County parishes.

In 1994, the St. Louis Archdiocese received two complaints of his sexual misconduct in incidents that reportedly had occurred about 15 years before, the archdiocese said Friday in a statement. That year, the Dallas diocese made its first payment to one of Roberts accusers, providing $ 8,999 to a St. Louisan for therapy.

In August 1994, his permission to function as a priest was revoked by the St. Louis Archdiocese, according to the archdiocese's statement. He was forbidden to exercise any public ministry in the archdiocese. His Internet activity from Texas may be in violation of that order.

In 1994, Roberts was recalled to Dallas and assigned to an Irving, Texas, church, where he was not allowed to associate with young men or any adolescents. He needed permission for all public speaking engagements. After a man who had been an altar boy in Fort Worth charged Roberts with sexual abuse, Bishop Grahmann told Roberts to end all public ministry, not to say Mass in public and not to administer the sacraments except in emergencies.

The Dallas diocese paid the Fort Worth man $ 30,000 in an out-of-court settlement this year. No payment has been made in a third case involving an abuse allegation that dates to 1989 in the Peoria diocese.

 
 

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