SNAP Criticizes Archdiocese

By William C. Lhotka
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
August 1, 2007

Kirkwood (MO) — Members of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests criticized the St. Louis Archdiocese today because the former president of Vianney High School, the Rev. Robert Osborne, is listed as a visiting priest at St. Peter's Catholic Church in downtown Kirkwood.

In June, the Marianist province of the United States - the religioius order to which Osborne belongs — settled a civil suit with an 18-year-old who had accused the priest of molesting him two years ago when he was a Vianney student.

SNAP official Judy Jones and national director David Clohessy said at a news conference today that Archbishop Raymond Burke violated the church's national child sex abuse policy by assigning Osborne to St. Peter's, or allowing him to take part in ministerial duties at the church.

Osborne left Vianney in September 2006, about six months after the allegations against him surfaced.

Osborne has denied the allegations and took no part in the settlement negotiations. Terms of the settlement in June were not disclosed, and a Marianist spokeswoman said at the time the settlement was not an admission of guilt by Osborne.

In October, St. Louis County prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch said there was no evidence of criminal conduct by Osborne and he declined to file charges against him.

"Someone functioning as a parish priest either is or has the potential to be near kids," Clohessy said. "The archdiocese has said over and over that child protection will be their first priority and no one credibly accused will be in ministry."

But St. Louis Monsignor Richard Stika, who heads the archdiocesan office of Child and Youth Protection, defended Osborne, noting that the church itself, Kirkwood police and the St. Louis County prosecutor's office all investigated him. Prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced in October that no criminal charges would be filed.

"Father Osborne is free to celebrate Mass after all these allegations were not deemed credible," Stika said.


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