Metropolitan Area Digest

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
April 14, 2005


Two sue archdiocese, allege sexual abuse

Two men filed suit against the St. Louis archdiocese, Archbishop Raymond Burke and a Festus property owner Wednesday, claiming they ignored sexual abuse that occurred more than 30 years ago and failed to protect young boys from a predatory priest.

The suits claim that the men, known in the lawsuit as John Doe 110 and John Doe 112, were molested by the Rev. Norman Christian while he was a priest at Sacred Heart Church in Crystal City. The archdiocese removed Christian from the ministry in 1995 after an allegation of sexual abuse. He died in October at age 69.

At a news conference Wednesday of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, Christian's sister, Carol Kuhnert, said her brother told her that to protect the church from lawsuits, he would never publicly admit molesting children. Also, she said, "He never felt he did anything wrong." She apologized on behalf of his family.

The suits say Christian molested the boys on church property and at a Festus swimming hole in 1970 and 1971, that the archdiocese knew that Christian was a pedophile and that it failed to act to protect children.

Archdiocesan spokesman Jamie Allman said that he couldn't comment but said the church immediately acts on accusations of sexual abuse.

The suits say the property owner, Robert E. Oberle, failed to protect the boys. The suits claim Oberle witnessed acts of molestation. He did not return a call seeking comment.


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