New Suit against Beine Alleges Sex Abuse

By Robert Patrick
Post-Dispatch [St. Louis MO]
June 27, 2005

James Beine, the former Roman Catholic priest freed from prison this month by the Missouri Supreme Court, was sued Monday by a man who said Beine abused him more than 30 years ago.

Tony Pettus' lawsuit says Beine molested Pettus in the early 1970s, when the priest took Pettus and five other boys camping at Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park.

Beine forced Pettus, who was then about 11 years old, to touch Beine's genitals, according to the suit, filed Monday morning against Beine, the St. Louis Roman Catholic Archdiocese and Archbishop Raymond Burke in St. Louis Circuit Court.

In interviews Monday and earlier this year, Pettus said he had gone on the trip with a friend who was a member of St. Andrew's parish in Lemay.

"When bedtime came, I didn't have nowhere to sleep, so I had to sleep with him" in his tent, Pettus said. He said he was prompted to come forward by news of Beine's release.

Ken Chackes, a lawyer representing Pettus, said the statute of limitations would prevent prosecution of Beine for the abuse alleged in the lawsuit. Chackes said more lawsuits may be on the way.

Beine was freed from prison June 2 by a Missouri Supreme Court ruling in April that said the sexual misconduct statute under which he was convicted in 2003 was unconstitutionally overbroad. Beine had been convicted of exposing himself to three elementary school boys in the bathroom of the school where Beine worked as a counselor.

After his release from prison, Beine promised to hold a news conference that would clear his name. At a news conference Monday afternoon, David Clohessy, national director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, challenged Beine to fulfill his promise. Clohessy also challenged Beine's lawyers to reveal Beine's current address or warn his new neighbors.

"He's not living in St. Louis," said Larry Fleming, one of Beine's lawyers. "So tell them to relax.

"I really resent the fact that they tell me what my obligations are," he said of SNAP and Clohessy. "And tell them if they want to file a lawsuit 35 years after the incident happens, good luck to you."

Clohessy also challenged Burke to notify other parishes where Beine spent time. Clohessy said Beine was a deacon at St. Mary Magdalen in St. Louis and St. Monica in Creve Coeur, and grew up at St. Mary in Bridgeton.

The church has settled nine civil lawsuits for more than $400,000 alleging sexual improprieties or abuse by Beine, a spokesman said last month.

Last month, Burke wrote a letter to three churches where Beine worked, urging victims to approach police or the archdiocese.

A spokesman for the archdiocese could not be reached for comment.