Priest Sexually Abused Boy in '80s at Fenton School, Suit Says
It Charges Archdiocese Knew about Previous Misconduct, Did Nothing
By Patricia Rice
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
February 20, 2003
A south St. Louis County resident filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Rev. Robert J. Yim, 54, accusing him of sodomy abuse and other sexual misconduct in the 1980s. The plaintiff was then a grade-school boy at St. Paul Catholic School in Fenton.
Yim left the active ministry of the St. Louis Archdiocese more than seven years ago. After his disaffiliation with the archdiocese, Yim joined the United Church of Christ, and under its aegis, continued his work as a cardiac unit chaplain at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. He was at the hospital for 11 years, leaving in March.
The St. Louis Archdiocese is co-defendant in the suit, which was filed in St. Louis Circuit Court. The plaintiff charges that the archdiocese knew about "previous sexual misconduct of Yim" and did not properly supervise him. The plaintiff and his parents never reported the abuse to the parish, the archdiocese or authorities, said the plaintiff's lawyer, Patrick W. Noaker, of St. Paul, Minn. The suit alleged the incidents occurred "in/around 1986 and 1987." It seeks unspecified damages.
The plaintiff is now "28 or 29," Noaker said. The man, who works in banking, filed the suit under the name "John Doe 73." He declined to appear at a news conference.
"I have a moral obligation to myself and the community to take action and explain the wrongs that have plagued me," the plaintiff said in a prepared statement. "I am filing this case as a healing process so that I can move on with my life after 16 years of emotional torment."
He said Yim had betrayed him and his family because Yim had been "one of our favorite and beloved priests." Yim took the plaintiff on several "out-of state" trips, Noaker said.
Yim resigned from active ministry in 1995, said Jim Orso, St. Louis Archdiocese spokesman. Late Wednesday, Bernard Huger, a lawyer for the archdiocese, said that he was reading the first page of the lawsuit and it was premature to comment on it.
Yim grew up in St. Louis and was ordained a priest in the St. Louis Archdiocese in June 1974. Parishioners at three parishes where he served sa id that he was a compelling preacher. He frequently spoke to Chinese- and Philippine-Americans.
His first assignment was an associate pastor at St. Clare of Assisi Parish in Ballwin. In May 1978, he began serving in the Archdiocese's Latin American Apostolate in Bolivia. In June 1981, he returned to the St. Louis region and became an associate at St. Dominic Savio Parish in the Affton area. Four years later, he became an associate of St. Paul Parish. Then, in 1990, he was assigned to Barnes Hospital as a chaplain. He lived at All Saints Church in University City. He said daily Mass at All Saints but spent most of his days as a cardiac unit chaplain at Barnes and wrote about health and spirituality issues.
After leaving the archdiocese, he retained his job at the hospital by becoming a member of the United Church of Christ, said Jennifer Arvin, a hospital spokeswoman. He left the hospital on March 26, she said.
Over the past seven years, Yim occasionally was guest preacher at area Protestant churches. The current United Church of Christ regional roster lists Yim as one of its chaplains. Its regional officials could not be reached Wednesday.
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