Priest, Archdiocese Are Named in Sex Abuse Suit Clergyman Was Removed from Ministry in 2000 after 37 Years in Parishes

By Tim Townsend
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
August 24, 2005

A Texas man sued a Catholic priest in St. Louis Circuit Court Tuesday, claiming the priest sexually abused him 35 years ago.

The man is now in his 50s and filed the civil suit as "John Doe." He claims that the Rev. James Pavlik counseled him after he "got in some trouble with the law" and invited him to spend the night in the rectory. Pavlik then fondled the teen's genitals, according to the suit.

At the time of the alleged abuse, Pavlik was a pastor at St. John Nepomuk Church, 1625 South 11th Street in St. Louis, according to Tony Huenneke, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

In 37 years of parish work, Pavlik was a pastor at two other St. Louis churches, St. Mary Magdalen and Most Holy Trinity. He was also pastor at five other area churches: Assumption in Herculaneum; St. John's in Imperial; Assumption in O'Fallon, Mo.; Sacred Heart in Ozora, Mo., in Ste. Genevieve County; and, most recently, Holy Martyrs of Japan in Japan in Franklin County.

According to Bernard C. Huger, an archdiocesan attorney, this is the first suit filed against Pavlik. Huenneke said Pavlik has been living in "a supervised residential setting" since November 2000, when he was removed from ministry for credible allegations of abuse.

In March, Pavlik's sister-in-law told the Post-Dispatch that the priest has lived at RECON, a nonprofit facility for troubled priests in eastern Franklin County, for five years. She said Pavlik is not confined to the facility and regularly attends family gatherings where young children are present. Messages left for Pavlik and his supervisors at RECON were not returned Tuesday.

The suit also names the archdiocese and Archbishop Raymond Burke, saying archdiocesan officials knew about Pavlik's history of abusing minors and "acted with depraved hearts" by failing to prevent his future access to others.


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