New Lawsuits Allege Priest Molested Teenagers As He Taught Them to Drive
Youths Sat on His Lap While Taking Lessons, Advocacy Group Says
By Hannah Bergman
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
July 9, 2003
Accusations by three men and a woman Tuesday brought to seven the number of civil suits claiming that the Rev. Michael McGrath molested children and that the Archdiocese of St. Louis covered it up.
One of the new plaintiffs claiming abuse is the brother of a man whose death earlier this year was blamed in a wrongful death lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by McGrath.
Patrick Noaker, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, said the number of cases against McGrath was significant. He said the law firms involved had handled about 1,000 cases involving sexual abuse claims against clergy members but that, "We have never had seven cases filed in (one) month against one priest."
McGrath could not be reached for comment. McGrath now lives in Richmond Heights and was a bus driver for the Metro public transit system. There are no reports of any criminal charges against him.
A spokesman for the archdiocese declined to respond Tuesday. The archdiocese's policy is not to comment on pending suits, said spokesman Jim Orso. In addition, its officials had not yet seen the new suits, he said.
Noaker claims the archdiocese moved McGrath among parishes beginning in the late 1970s to hide his predatory activities.
The priest was removed from active ministry in 1997 after allegations of improper contact with minors.
Three of the four plaintiffs filing suit Tuesday attended a press conference in downtown St. Louis held by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. They are Don Clark and Ron Klump, both 33, and both of south St. Louis County, and Herbert Alex Graham, 30, of Decatur, Ill.
The fourth, a 38-year-old woman who lives in Texas, filed suit as Jane Doe to protect her privacy.
According to information provided by SNAP, the men were abused by Mc Grath while McGrath taught them to drive when they were 13 or 14. The Jane Doe plaintiff was also abused in McGrath's vehicle, SNAP said.
"I am angry that the archdiocese enabled Father McGrath to sexually abuse me by moving him from parish to parish and not stopping him," Graham read from a prepared statement.
The three men said they were molested at various times from 1982 to 1987, while McGrath was at St. Simon the Apostle parish in Concord Village and assisted at other churches.
The Jane Doe plaintiff claims McGrath abused her while he was a teacher at St. Patrick School in Wentzville from 1978-81.
Klump is the brother of Christopher Klump, who overdosed on cocaine at a St. Louis hotel in March. Their father filed a wrongful death suit in Jun e against McGrath, claiming that abuse when Christopher Klump was a child led him to take his own life.
On June 26, two women sued, claiming McGrath abused them on a Bishop DuBourg High School trip in 1992.
David Clohessy, of SNAP, said McGrath often would take children from area parishes in his van to get ice cream or attend a Cardinals game. The young teens, all under the age of 16, would sit on McGrath's lap under the pretext of learning to drive, Clohessy said.
SNAP says McGrathhas worked at St. Simon, St. Patrick and St. Ferdinand parishes in Florissant, All Souls in Overland, St. Catherine of Sienna in Pagedale, Corpus Christi in Jennings and St. Mary in Bridgeton.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.