Former St. Louis-Area Priest Is Accused of Sex Abuse in Suit

Associated Press, carried in Belleville News-Democrat
April 30, 2004

St. Louis — A former St. Louis-area Redemptorist priest was sued Thursday by a man who says the clergyman sexually abused him as a boy from 1978 to 1981.

The lawsuit alleged Rev. James Thiel repeatedly committed the abuse when the priest worked at a suburban St. Louis parish.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests issued a statement from the alleged victim, now in his 30s and living in the St. Louis area. His name was not released.

"I come forward in an effort to encourage healing and to ensure no other children will be led to suffer at the hands of James Thiel," the man's statement read. "The guilt I live with keeps me bonded in shame."

The lawsuit was filed in St. Louis Circuit Court and is against Thiel; his religious order, the Redemptorist Fathers; the Archdiocese of St. Louis and its archbishop, Raymond Burke.

The Rev. Peter Connolly, vicar provincial for the Redemptorist province based in Denver, said Thiel was dismissed from the order in 1997. He said Thiel had not been fully committed to parish ministry and the order's mission, which Connolly said was primarily helping the poor.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis said in a statement it was informed years ago by the Redemptorist Order that, at its request, the Vatican had issued a decree removing Thiel from the order. Though he remained a priest, the archdiocese said, he was barred from functioning as a priest.

The archdiocese said it could not discuss specifics of the lawsuit, given the matter was pending litigation.

The archdiocese said it had no details about Thiel's whereabouts.

Court documents, the survivors' network and Thiel's religious order did not have any information about where he lives.


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