Archdiocese data give fuller accounting of St. Louis priest abuse scandal

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

[with extensive chart]

By Jennifer S. Mann 314-621-58043

ST. LOUIS • As the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal exploded across the nation in 2002, St. Louis was exposed to seamy details that previously had been hidden behind local parish walls.

A cascade of complaints against priests and other church employees — some, of abuse kept secret for decades — poured in to the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Only recently has the archdiocese revealed the extent.

The number of abuse allegations made here that year, according to the archdiocese’s own record keeping, was 111 — nearly half of what church officials say they received in total over a 20-year period ending in 2003. Those incidents dated back as far as the 1940s.

It is one of several revelations found in a cryptic court filing that provides the clearest view yet of the scope of the crisis here. The archdiocese released the information while fighting demands for further disclosures in a lawsuit filed by an alleged victim of the since-defrocked Rev. Joseph Ross.

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