Lawsuit accuses De Soto priest of sexual abuse at boys’ home

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

February 16, 2022

By Robert Patrick

A lawsuit filed in circuit court here accuses a De Soto priest of abusing someone at a boy’s home two decades ago.

Christian Hornbeck’s lawsuit says Father Alexander Anderson fondled him in the late 1990s or early 2000s at St. Joseph’s Home for Boys in south St. Louis.

The suit says the St. Louis Archdiocese and other Catholic institutions allowed Anderson access to “numerous vulnerable individuals” and “knowingly covered up and concealed the sexual abuse of their minor parishioners by” Anderson.

Anderson, who is now at St. Rose of Lima parish in De Soto, referred a reporter’s questions to the Archdiocese.

In a statement, the Archdiocese said previous allegations involving Anderson were either retracted or shown to be false. One such claimant has maintained his allegations from prison where he is incarcerated for financial fraud.

“This most recent claim is demonstrably false, as Fr. Anderson was not assigned to St. Joseph Home during the time the claimant was a resident,” the statement says.

Hornbeck was placed at St. Joseph’s after being removed from his mother’s care. He was an outsider, the suit says, and became a target for bullying and sexual abuse by older boys. His complaints were ignored by staff, the suit says.

Anderson, under the guise of providing spiritual guidance and counseling, groomed Hornbeck and then fondled him, the suit says.

Hornbeck, who now is married and works and lives in Georgia, repressed the memories until 2018, when he saw a Facebook post about the school, the suit says. The Post-Dispatch does not normally identify alleged victims of sexual abuse, but Hornbeck’s suit uses his name and his lawyer said he did not object to its use.

A “John Doe” sued Anderson and the church in federal court last year, also alleging sexual abuse. That suit is pending, and Anderson and the church have denied the accusations in legal filings.

In the statement, the Archdiocese pointed out that Doe is currently in prison for financial fraud.

Hornbeck’s lawsuit says Anderson worked at St. Pius V from 1975-79, St. Blaise from 1979-80, Immaculate Heart of Mary from 1980-81, St. Simon’s in Concord Village from 1981-83, St. Joseph’s Home for Boys from 1983-88, St. Andrews in Lemay from 1988-1992, Assumption Parish in Mattese from 1992-93, Sacred Heart Parish from 1992 to 2008, when he went to St. Rose of Lima.

Anderson was a counselor and spiritual guide at St. Joseph’s until at least 2002, the suit says.