Marianists Order Settles Repressed-Memory Suit

By Heather Ratcliffe
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
October 20, 2007

KIRKWOOD — A man who claimed a repressed memory of alleged sexual abuse by a St. John Vianney High School teacher has agreed to settle with the Catholic religious order that operates the school.

Under the settlement terms, Bryan Bacon will receive $160,000 from the Marianist Province of the United States, a St. Louis-based order. Bacon claimed that Brother William Mueller blindfolded, threatened and molested him in 1985, while Mueller was an assistant principal and religion teacher.

"I'm certainly relieved its over," Bacon said Friday. "(The settlement) brings closure to this part of the process."

The case, filed in 2005, was set for trial Nov. 26 in St. Louis County Circuit Court. The Marianists had tried unsuccessfully to get the suit dismissed, claiming the filing deadline passed in 2000. But Bacon's attorney, Patrick Noaker, insisted that a Missouri Supreme Court ruling last year opened the door to suits timed to the recovery of a repressed memory.

Brother Stephen Glodek, head of the Marianists, said Friday that Bacon initiated the settlement offer and the order cooperated. "It's a gesture of healing on our part towards Bryan Bacon," Glodek said.

Mueller, now of San Antonio, is the subject of another suit in St. Louis, and 23 suits in Pueblo, Colo., where he taught. He has declined to comment.

Glodek said the Marianists will consider their defense of each case separately.

Bacon, who was a Vianney student body president, claimed Mueller abused him as part of a project studying the psychology of fear.

Mueller asked bizarre questions and began rubbing his neck and back and blowing in his ear, Bacon said. Then Mueller blindfolded him, put what felt like a knife to his throat and simulated intercourse.

A ringing telephone interrupted Mueller, Bacon said. He said he avoided Mueller until the teacher abruptly left the school in Kirkwood several weeks later.

During a hearing this year, Bacon's attorney said his client suffered from anxiety, depression and insomnia, and learned from a psychiatrist in 2004 that he suffered "traumatic avoidance," a refusal to consider emotional injuries.

Meanwhile, another Marianist priest with ties to St. Louis has been served with a subpoena five years after a Florida man sued him alleging sexual abuse, according to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

The Rev. William Christensen, who has been living in Bangladesh, returned to St. Louis last week to attend a fundraising event at a downtown bar. A process server surprised him with a copy of the suit and a subpoena to appear for a deposition.

Michael Powel, of St. Petersburg, Fla., is the only person to file a suit against Christensen, according to SNAP. | 314-621-5804


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