Sexual Abuse Settlement Reached against Former ESL Priest and Two Others

Belleville News-Democrat
April 19, 2007

St. Louis - The Archdiocese of St. Louis today announced that a financial settlement was reached involving a lawsuit naming three priests accused of sexual abuse of a child, including the Rev. Chester E. Gaiter, a former pastor in East St. Louis.

Gaiter, a retired Jesuit priest who served at St. Joseph's Church for a year beginning in 1993, was accused of molesting a boy who was attending a religious school in St. Louis in the mid 1980s. According to a spokesman at a Jesuit retirement home in St. Louis, Gaiter, who was assigned in St. Louis at the time of the abuse, is mentally incapacitated and cannot answer questions.

Pat Noaker, a St. Paul, Minn., attorney who represented the victim, who was not named, said the settlement totaled $140,000 and includes a written apology to the victim and his family from the archdiocese.

Noaker said the victim is a 38-year-old who was concerned that no one would take his claims seriously unless he sued.

"He was abused from age 12 to 18, all through high school. You can't give this kid those years back," Noaker said.

Four priests, all members of religious orders, were accused. Besides Gaiter, the settlement in St. Louis city court, included allegations of sexual abuse against the Rev. Michael O. Barry and the Rev. James Thiel. A case against the fourth defendant, the Rev. Thaddeus Posey, is pending after being moved to federal civil court. Barry is deceased.

David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivor's Network of Those Abused By Priests, criticized the archdiocese for not making a public statement concerning the accused priests after the lawsuit was filed in 2004. Only's Thiel's case has been made public, according to news accounts

"Little has changed in the church hierarchy," Clohessy said.

But church attorney Bernie Huger said the archdiocese does not comment about priests who are members of separate religious orders. Huger said that if the priests were archdiosesan priests, and if church officials had "substantiated" the sexual abuse allegations, church officials would have gone to the involved parishes to see if other victims might be involved.


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