Man Raised by Religious Community Alleges Abuse

The Associated Press, carried in The Kansas City Star
August 13, 2004

ST. LOUIS - A former seminarian who moved in with a religious community at age 15 claims he was sexually abused by a priest who told him that no one else loved him.

The man - a Washington, D.C., resident now in his 30s - anonymously filed a lawsuit Thursday in St. Louis Circuit Court against his alleged abuser, the Rev. Richard Lause, and religious officials and organizations.

The man's lawyer, Rebecca Randles, of Kansas City, said Lause took the child under his wing, then abused him when the teen was dependent on the order for food and shelter.

"He would have him cook for him, clean for him, perform sexual acts for him, and he would taunt him that he had no where else to go, and that no one else loved him, and at that time, unfortunately, it was true," Randles said.

In 1985, the boy's mother brought him to a seminary in Lemont, Ill., and Vincentian priests, members of the Midwest Province of the Congregation of the Mission, agreed to raise him, Randles said. His contact ceased with his mother and stepfather, Randles said. The teenager, who wanted to become a priest, transferred to a seminary in St. Louis, where Randle said most of the abuse occurred.

Randles said Lause began "grooming" the child beginning around age 15 with hugs, kisses and sitting the boy on his lap.

The Midwest Province issued a statement saying the wrongful sexual conduct was brought to the religious group's attention in Dec. of 1988, when the victim was 19. The group said Lause was removed from ministry within days, received therapy through April 1989, and was approved by a therapist to return to ministry.

The religious community said it was contacted again by the victim in 2003, notified that the victim was 17 when the abuse began, and placed Lause on administrative leave.

Provincial supervisor, the Rev. James Swift said Thursday that he stood by that age as the one given for when the abuse began. He also said that, to his knowledge, the man alleging the abuse withdrew voluntarily from the seminary.

Randles said her client was asked to leave, and he believed it was because he had come forward with his allegations.

Swift said the province wanted to help the man.

"The province sincerely apologizes to the victim and assures him of its desire to assist him in healing," Swift said.

The religious province also said it has received no other allegations of sexual abuse by Lause.

Name in the lawsuit are Lause; the Midwest Province of the Congregation of the Mission; Swift; the Archdiocese of St. Louis and Archbishop Raymond Burke. The lawsuit says Swift and Burke were included because of their leadership roles.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis referred calls to the Vincentian order, noting that Lause was not a diocesan priest. It said its policy is not to comment on civil litigation.

Swift said that as Lause's supervisor he advised Lause not to comment on the matter. A phone call to Lause at the Vincentian residence where he now lives went unanswered.