Assignment Record -– Rev. Joseph D. Ross

Summary of Case: Ordained a priest of the St. Louis archdiocese in 1969, Joseph D. Ross has been accused by at least five people of child sexual abuse. He was convicted in 1988 of the sexual abuse of a boy in 1986. During that investigation he admitted to police that he'd been arrested twice previously for sexual misconduct involving adults, and that he was accused of molesting an 8th grade boy at a parish in the 1970s. Ross was sentenced to two years' probation and sent to treatment. He was subsequently allowed to resume ministry; parishioners were not informed of his history of sexual misconduct, including the conviction. Ross was removed from ministry in March 2002 due to his earlier conviction, during a time of widespread public revelations in the U.S. of clergy sex abuse against children. He was laicized by the Vatican several months later. In September 2008 Ross was arrested in Arkansas, where he'd been living since his removal from the priesthood, on charges of the rape and molestation of a child. His accuser was a teen girl who reported that Ross sexually abused her in Missouri beginning when she was 5 or six years-old in the late 1990s, into the early 2000s. Ross was her family's parish pastor at the time. Criminal charges were dropped just before trial in August 2010. The now young woman filed a civil lawsuit in Oct. 2011; it was settled in July 2014.

Ordained: 1969


Start Stop Parish Town/Accusations State Position Notes


St. Louis archbishop was John Joseph Carberry (1968-1979).

1974 Immacolata

Richmond Heights


MO 3/3, 2/4

Immacolata had a school with 294-260 students.

Ross was arrested in 1972 and charged with committing a lewd and laschivious act. He'd been caught by police masturbating with two other men in a store bathroom. The charges were later dismissed.

1974 1976 St. William's

Woodson Terrace

Ross was accused in a 2002 lawsuit of sexually abusing a 12-14-year-old boy at St. Williams' from1975-1977. His accuser said that in the Spring of 1977, after confession, Ross showed the boy a ping-pong paddle and told the boy to pull down his pants. The boy thought Ross was going to spank him; instead, he said, Ross sodomized him.

MO 2/2 St. William's had a school with 256-176 students.


Carberry was succeeded by John Lawrence May (1980-1992).

1982 St. Bridget's Pacific MO 2/2 St. Bridget's had a school with 160-211 students.
1982 1986 St. Francis De Sales St. Louis MO 3/3 St. Francis' had a school with 226-301 students.
1986 1988 Christ the King

University City

Ross was accused of grabbing and kissing an 11-year-old boy multiple times during confession at Christ the King in December 1986. He pleaded guilty in 1988 to sexually assaulting the boy.

MO 2/2

Christ the King had a school with 196 students.


Ross was sentenced to two years' probation.

Data released by the archdiocese in Jan. 2014 shows that Ross was accused by three people prior to his 1988 conviction, and was accused by two others on "dates unkown."

Ross admitted to police during the 1988 investigation about his 1972 arrest for public indecency, and that he was arrested at some point at the Crestwood Plaza for propositioning an undercover police officer. He also admitted that he'd been accused of molesting an 8th grade boy at St. William's in the 1970s.

1988 1989        

Ross is not indexed in the 1989 Directory.

Ross was sent to a Washington D.C. area inpatient mental health treatment program for 7 months, after his December 1988 sentencing.

Ross was allowed to resume ministry; parishioners were not informed of his history of sexual misconduct.

    St. Bernadette Lemay MO   A news report places Ross here but does not say when he worked in Lemay.
1989 1991 Corpus Christi Jennings MO 1/3, 1/4

Corpus Christi had a school with 228 students.

Ross is listed in Jennings in the 1992 Directory, but a news report states that he began his assignment at St. Cronan's (see next entry) in 1991. He likely was transferred from Corpus Christi to St. Cronan's late in 1991, after the data for the 1992 Directory was collected in Fall 1991.


Justin Francis Rigali replaced May as St. Louis archbishop (1994-2003).

2002 St. Cronan's

St. Louis

Ross was arrested in September 2008 in Arkansas on charges of the molestation and rape of a child younger than 12 years-old. The abuse was said to have occurred from the late 1990s to the early 2000s, at St. Cronan's. His accuser said the abuse started when she was 5 or 6 years-old, while she was left in Ross' care so her mother could attend choir practice. Ross is said to have told the little girl that she was helping him with his sexuality because he liked boys better than girls.

MO 1/2

St. Cronan's had a CCD program with 22 students.

Ross is not indexed beyond the 2002 Directory. He was removed from his parish in March 2002, due to his history of sexual misconduct. His laicization was announced by the Vatican in August 2002.

2002 2014   Little Rock AR   Ross moved to Arkansas after his removal from ministry. He was arrested there in September 2008 after a teen girl reported having been sexually abused by him eight years earlier, when the teen was younger than 12 years-old. The charges were dropped just before trial in August 2010. The girl filed suit in October 2011. In February 2014 the civil trial was delayed by a St. Louis City Judge, and re-scheduled for July 2014. The case was settled July 7, 2014.


Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1970-2002)

Archdiocese Ousts Priest from Church, He Was Accused of Sexual Abuse 15 Years Ago, Older Cases Are Being Reviewed, By Patricia Rice and Phillip O'Connor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 1, 2002
Archdiocese Sought a Quiet Way Out, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 3, 2002
Priest Pleaded Guilty in '88 to Assault of Boy, Archdiocese Didn't Tell Next Parish of Conviction, By Norm Parish, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 7, 2002
Missouri, Illinois Laws Don't Require Clergy Members to Report Child Abuse, But Illinois, Missouri Prosecutors Say Cases Should Go to Court, By William C. Lhotka, Tim Bryant, Robert Goodrich, Trisha Howard, Tim Rowden And Valerie Schremp, St. Louis Post-Dispatch [Missouri], March 10, 2002
Area Priest in Sex Case Is Laicized by Pope, St. Louis Archdiocese Had Removed Joseph D. Ross from St. Cronan Church, By Norm Parish, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 8, 2002
Webster Groves Man Sues Ex-Priest, Archdiocese; Abuse in 1977 Is Alleged, Former Pastor Pleaded Guilty in Another Case of Sexually Molesting Boy, By Tim Bryant, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 8, 2002
Former priest arrested in LR, Arkansas Times, October 2, 2008
Former Priest Faces New Sex Charges, By Tony Miller, CW 11, October 2, 2008
Former St. Louis Priest under Arrest for Sexual Assault, KSDK, October 1, 2008
St. Louis: Judge Increases Bond for Priest Accused of Abuse, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 31, 2008
St. Louis Catholic Church First Ever to Post Link to Priest Abuse Group, By Tim Townsend, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 8, 2008
Suspended Pedophile Priests Committing Subsequent Crimes Recently, SNAP, December 30, 2008
Molestation Charges against Former St. Louis Priest Joseph Ross Dropped, KSDK, August 6, 2010
Case Vs. Predator Priest Is Withdrawn; He Walks Free; SNAP Responds, SNAP, August 6, 2010
Law and Order, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 6, 2010
LR Diocese Faces Scrutiny over Priest, By Jay Jackson , Today's THV, April 14, 2011
Joseph Ross: Former St. Cronan's Priest Accused of Molesting Parishioner, By Chad GarrisonMon, Riverfront Times, October 24, 2011
Woman Sues St. Louis Archdiocese, Claims Abuse by Pastor As Child, By Valerie Schremp Hahn, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
October 24, 2011
Archdiocese Issues Statement on Laicized Priest, St. Louis Review, October 27, 2011
SNAP Receives Second Subpoena Request for Documents, By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, January 5, 2012
Involved Laity and Determined Pastor Rebuild St. Louis Parish, By Joan Barthel, National Catholic Reporter, February 15, 2012
Judge Orders Archdiocese to Turn over Record of Sex Abuse Complaints, Fox 2, November 15, 2013
With or without Names, St. Louis Archdiocese's " Matrix" of Sex Offenders Leaves Questions, By Chad Garrison, Riverfront Times
January 15, 2014
Archdiocese Data Give Fuller Accounting of St. Louis Priest Abuse Scandal, By Jennifer S. Mann, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 30, 2014
High profile pedophile priest trial delayed; SNAP responds,, posted by Barbara Dorris Feb. 12, 2014
St. Louis priest abuse case headed for trial, By Lilly Fowler, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 7, 2014
Cardinal Dolan Deposed, Berger's Beat, July 4, 2014
St. Louis Archdiocese, Plaintiff Reach Settlement In Case Of Doe Vs. Ross, by Rachel Lipmann, St. Louis Public Radio, July 7, 2014
St. Louis Archdiocese Dismisses Victim's Abuse Claims as Lies, "Personal Issues" (VIDEO), By Lindsay Toler , Riverfront Times, July 8, 2013

Documents in Jane Doe 92 v. Archdiocese of St. Louis

Court Order re Motions to Compel (5/13/13)
Court Order (12/31/13)
Relators' Motion for Stay (1/2/14)
Relators' Motion to File Under Seal (1/2/14)
Relators' Writ Petition (1/2/14)
Relators' Writ Summary (1/2/14)
Relators' Writ Suggestions (1/2/14)
Relators' Writ Suggestions – Exhibits 01-05
Relators' Writ Suggestions – Exhibit   06
Relators' Writ Suggestions – Exhibits 07-15
Relators' Writ Suggestions – Exhibits 16-20
Relators' Writ Suggestions – Exhibit   21
Relators' Writ Suggestions – Exhibits 22-23

Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Ross' career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on July 8, 2014