Victims Are Concerned after Former Priest Files for Bankruptcy

By Betsy Taylor
Associated Press, carried in Belleville News-Democrat [St. Louis MO]
November 8, 2005

ST. LOUIS - A defrocked priest who agreed to make payments to four victims of sexual abuse has filed for bankruptcy, making it more difficult for those men to collect from him.

Advocates for the victims said on Tuesday that they fear it's possible the men may not be paid, though legal action is being pursued to try and enforce the earlier agreements.

Four men filed three lawsuits against the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the former Rev. Robert Yim in St. Louis Circuit Court, alleging separate instances of sodomy or other sexual abuse when they were children in the 1970s through 1990s, said their lawyer Ken Chackes.

The archdiocese agreed to settlements totaling roughly $300,000 in 2004 and early 2005, made those payments, and knows of no other pending cases related to Yim, said a lawyer representing the archdiocese, Bernard Huger.

However, Yim, 57, also agreed as an individual earlier this year to make payments to the same four men in similar amounts, minus $1,000 he already paid to each man, Chackes said. Then, on Sept. 13, Yim filed for bankruptcy in Miami.

The national director of the advocacy group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, David Clohessy, said Yim should never have agreed to make payments to the men if he thought he couldn't pay them.

"It may be an attempt by Yim to avoid payment all together," Chackes said. He said Yim had not agreed to a formal payment schedule and work was underway to file objections in bankruptcy court in Florida. Phone calls to Yim's lawyer were not returned, and he had no listed number in Florida. Yim has not been charged criminally.

Clohessy said it's important for victims that the results of civil cases and settlements be enforced.

"One, it's important for their own healing. Many victims feel like their perpetrator needs to be held accountable." He said the only way many victims can warn others about perpetrators is through the civil system due to criminal statute of limitation issues.

Yim has been defrocked as a priest. St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke said Jan. 28 that Yim was "dismissed from the clerical state," a process involving the Vatican that the church calls laicization, after credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. At the time, Burke expressed deep regret to those harmed.

According to the archdiocese, Yim served in the St. Clare of Assisi parish in Ellisville, Mo., from 1974 to 1978; in the Latin America Apostolate from 1978 to 1981; in St. Dominic Savio parish in Affton from 1981 to 1985; in St. Paul parish in Fenton from 1985 to 1990; and as a chaplain at Barnes Hospital from 1990 to 1995.

He later became a United Church of Christ minister but was deemed unfit for ministry and had his standing terminated in June 2003.


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