Priest's Resignation Draws Concerns

By Shawn Clubb
South County Journal [St. Louis MO]
January 16, 2007

The resignation of a priest from his assignment at St. Ambrose Parish has a group that fights clergy abuse condemning actions of the local archdiocese.

The Rev. Darell Mitchell resigned last week from his assignment at St. Ambrose Parish at 5130 Wilson Ave. on The Hill. Mitchell is a priest in the Diocese of Yakima, Wash. He has been living in St. Louis where Archbishop Raymond Burke gave him a pastoral assignment.

Monsignor John Ecker, vicar general of the Diocese of Yakima, said Mitchell was sent two years ago to a treatment center near St. Louis after facing allegations in Washington that he had inappropriate material on his computer.

Barbara Dorris, national victim's outreach director for the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests, said what Mitchell possessed in Washington was child pornography.

"To put a man with sexual problems in a parish with a school and not tell anyone of his past record is both dangerous and reckless," Dorris said. "SNAP is deeply concerned about the lack of openness; the deceit that was carried out."

Ecker said investigators in Washington never found the materials to be pornographic. He said the material was inappropriate.

"The case never went anywhere," Ecker said. "There was inappropriate stuff, but it wasn't pornography. Because of the allegation, he went to St. Louis for treatment at the center there."

A statement by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis said Mitchell is leaving his assignment in St. Louis for personal reasons. Mitchell lived for two years in St. Louis, first living at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Clayton.

"After careful evaluation of Father Mitchell's background, Archbishop Raymond Burke found him suited for parochial ministry in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and with the permission of the Most Reverend Carlos A. Sevilla, S.J., Bishop of Yakima, gave Father Mitchell an assignment in the Archdiocese of St. Louis," the statement said.

Bishop Sevilla had signed and notarized a certificate of aptitude for Mitchell. The certificate required that there was nothing in Mitchell's background that would "raise questions about his fitness for ministry."

The archdiocese referred further questions to Ecker.

Dorris said she is unaware of any complaints about Mitchell's conduct in St. Louis. She said she only has knowledge of the accusations against him in Washington, but the archdiocese failed to inform parishioners at St. Ambrose about his past.


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