Suit Alleges Sex Abuse by Priest Who Died in 2003

By Robert Patrick
St. Louis Post-Dispatch [Missouri]
June 23, 2005

A St. Louis-area man sued the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis, Archbishop Raymond Burke and a dead priest Wednesday, claiming the church covered up sexual abuse by the priest in the early 1970s. The lawsuit against the Rev. Thomas Cooper brings to 40 the number of current or former clergy or members of religious orders in the archdiocese who have been sued or otherwise identified as sexually abusing children, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said.

Cooper died in 2003, archdiocesan spokesman Jamie Allman said. Allman would not comment on any allegations in the suit, and would not provide information about where Cooper worked.

More than 40 lawsuits have been filed against the archdiocese and priests by the firm handling the Cooper suit, lawyer Ken Chackes said Wednesday.

The suit against Cooper, filed under a John Doe alias to preserve the anonymity of the alleged victim, says that Cooper sexually abused the boy while both attended St. Mary Magdalen parish in south St. Louis.

It is the first time that Cooper has been sued or accused of abuse, according to SNAP.

Chackes said the man, a husband and father who lives in the St. Louis area, repressed the memories of the abuse until he heard about allegations against another priest, with whom he had counseled while contemplating a return to the church.

The suit says Cooper sexually abused the boy from 1970 to 1971 when the boy was 12 or 13. The suit says Cooper performed oral sex on the boy at least three times at Cooper's "clubhouse" on the banks of a river somewhere in Missouri.

The suit says the archdiocese turned a "blind eye" to reports of previous clergy sexual abuse and abuse by Cooper.

According to SNAP, Cooper was ordained in 1955 and retired in 1993. He worked in local parishes in Webster Groves, Hazelwood, St. Louis, University City and Jennings, SNAP said.


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