Man Alleges Abuse by Priest in Early 1980s

By Betsy Taylor
Associated Press
May 11, 2004

St. Louis - A Christian minister filed a sexual-abuse lawsuit Tuesday against Rev. Romano Ferraro, a Roman Catholic priest convicted last week of molesting a boy in Massachusetts.

Tim Bartin, 35, alleges he was abused by Ferraro in the early 1980s as an 11- or 12-year-old altar boy at St. Joan of Arc Parish. He filed his lawsuit in St. Louis Circuit Court against the priest, the Archdiocese of St. Louis and its Archbishop Raymond Burke.

Bartin said he sued to support other victims. He said he knows how to forgive, but that he still believes the church needs to be held accountable for abuse against children.

"I do not want to see any more victims, not even one more victim, of this abuse," he said. "And I would like to send a message to those that have remained silent. 'It is OK to come forward if these things have happened to you."'

Bartin declined to identify where he now lives in Missouri and the specific denomination of his ministry, saying only that it no longer is Roman Catholic.

He filed the lawsuit as "John Doe" but said he felt compelled to speak out.

In January, another St. Louis man in his 30s sued Ferraro and the St. Louis archdiocese, claiming he was raped by the cleric in the 1980s.

On Tuesday, the archdiocese said in a statement administrators had not yet seen Bartin's lawsuit. They said Ferraro lived at St. Joan from 1981 to 1983, and was not assigned to parish ministry.

Bartin and lawyer Susan Carlson said Ferraro did work in the parish by serving Mass.

The St. Louis archdiocese urged anyone harmed by Ferraro to contact Monsignor Richard Stika, the archdiocese's vicar general or the city's circuit attorney.

A telephone call Tuesday to Ferraro's Massachusetts lawyer was not returned.

Ferraro, 70, a suspended priest from Queens, N.Y., was convicted Friday by a jury in Massachusetts of one count of rape of a child, and three counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14. Ferraro's sentencing is scheduled for May 20.

The assaults occurred at a Billerica home between 1970 and 1980, when the victim was between 4 and 13 years old. Ferraro was not assigned to a Massachusetts parish but knew the boy, prosecutors said.

Ferraro also was among 13 priests named as defendants in a $300 million lawsuit filed in 2002 against the Brooklyn Diocese in New York.

Ordained in 1960, Ferraro spent most of his career in New York. He has been on suspension from the ministry since 1988 following a molestation claim.

He caused a furor in 1986 when he told more than 400 schoolchildren during a Mass in New Jersey that there is no Santa Claus. He also told them that their parents were lying to them about the North Pole, Rudolph and the presents under the tree.


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