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  Man Who Told of Molestation Says Priest Should Be Removed
Accused Cleric Now Serves in Florissant Parish

By Elizabethe Holland
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
March 4, 2002

OLD WOUNDS

A St. Louis area man who says he was sexually molested by a priest 20 years ago said Sunday he was pleased to see the Archdiocese of St. Louis finally removing offenders from churches. But the list, he said, was short at least one name.

Four years ago, John Scorfina and his two brothers agreed to accept $20,000 each from the archdiocese on the condition they never speak of a settlement involving abuse that Scorfina says occurred when he was 10. At the time, the boys were members of St. Pius X Catholic Church in Glasgow Village and attended the school there.

The Rev. Leroy Valentine, associated with the church and the school, became close to the Scorfina brothers and one day showed up at their home when their mother was not there, said Katie Chrun, the boys' mother. What began as a wrestling match of sorts ended with Valentine fondling two of the boys and sexually molesting John in a bedroom, John Scorfina and Chrun said.

John Scorfina says Valentine should have been removed as a pastor and kept away from children.

"I was a latch-key kid," Scorfina said Sunday. "I come from a divorced family. He took blatant advantage of my father's absence because of the divorce and worked his way into our lives. And then he took advantage of us and abused me.

"I'm 30. It happened while I was 10. I feel for all the children that this has happened to from that time to today because (the archdiocese) never did anything about it . . . You know there are kids out there. And I feel for them."

Last week, the archdiocese removed two priests from their parishes in St. Louis as a result of a review of past allegations of sexual abuse. The removals were prompted in part by scandals involving priests in the Boston archdiocese.

A new standard set by the archdiocese here holds that no priest will be allowed to work in a parish if an allegation of child molestation has been substantiated against him. Valentine, now an associate pastor at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Florissant, was not one of the two priests removed last week.

Valentine, who has previously denied allegations of abuse, declined to comment last week and could not be reached Sunday.

Bishop Timothy M. Dolan, who a month ago took over the task of overseeing claims of sexual abuse for the archdiocese, was unavailable for comment after Masses Sunday and did not return phone calls later in the day.

Valentine was removed from a parish following accusations of child molestation. He was sued in 1995 over molestation allegations stemming from 1982.

He was placed on administrative leave and underwent rehabilitation at the Wounded Brothers Retreat in Franklin County and was assigned to St. Thomas as an associate pastor in October 1999. The Rev. Henry Garavaglia, pastor of St. Thomas, wrote a letter to parishioners at the time telling them of the past allegations against Valentine.

But nothing short of keeping Valentine far away from children is enough, John Scorfina and Katie Chrun say.

Chrun, who learned of the alleged abuse the day it happened, went to a parish priest that night to demand that something be done. She was ignored, she said, so she went to police and was ignored again.

"It's been like, 'Shut up, go away, keep your big mouth shut,'" she said. "I was raised to believe you tell the truth under any circumstances. This is why I can't understand how they're above the law, how they can get away with lying and how come they can get away with that."

Now that Scorfina knows Valentine may still be within arm's reach of children, he doesn't care about the gag order part of the settlement.

"We all were led to believe that he was not going to be put around children ever again," said Scorfina, who owns Scorfina Construction Co. "Otherwise, I never would have - I never would have - settled with them if I knew or had any idea that they were going to allow him to be around children, because that was my whole mainstay on the entire thing, from the start: to get him away from kids so that he doesn't do to them what he did to us.

"For the archdiocese to hush victimized children, only to place them in harm's way again, is in my opinion ridiculous. I was quiet before, but if I have to, I'll go to the top of the mountain and I'll yell as loud as I can to save one more child."

 
 

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