Suit Alleges Sex Abuse by Priest in 1970s
Order Doesn't Know Where Priest Is Today or If He's Still a Priest

By Tim O'Neil
St. Louis Post-Dispatch [Missouri]
April 30, 2004

A man filed a civil suit Thursday alleging he was sexually abused by a former Redemptorist priest more than 20 years ago at a Catholic parish in Pine Lawn.

The man, identified only as John Doe CS, filed his suit in St. Louis Circuit Court against the Rev. James Thiel, the Redemptorists' Denver Province and the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The suit alleges that Thiel sexually abused the man when he was a grade-school pupil at St. Paul the Apostle Parish, which closed in 1995.

A spokesman for the Redemptorists said Thiel left the order in 1997. The spokesman said he did not know Thiel's whereabouts or whether he is still a priest.

Members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests held a news conference Thursday to discuss the suit. It was the third such event SNAP has held since April 20 to publicize lawsuits against current or former priests.

"There is a lot of pain that needs to come out," said David Clohessy of Maplewood, SNAP's national director.

Patrick Noaker of St. Paul, Minn., John Doe's lawyer, said Thiel was assigned to St. Alphonsus "Rock" Church in Midtown from 1973 to 1978, and to St. Paul's in Pine Lawn from 1978 to 1983. The Redemptorists staff St. Alphonsus and sometimes are assigned to assist other parishes.

The lawsuit alleges that Thiel sexually abused John Doe numerous times from 1978 to 1981, when John Doe was a pupil at St. Paul's.

The Rev. Peter Connolly of the Redemptorists' Denver Province said he was unaware of any accusations of sexual abuse against Thiel. Connolly said the Redemptorists asked Thiel to leave the order because Thiel preferred ministry assignments outside of the order's normal duties.

Connolly said he had not seen the suit and could not comment on it. The archdiocese also declined to comment.


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