Bishop Apologizes to Belleville Congregations

By Tim Townsend
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
September 10, 2008

Pastors across the Roman Catholic diocese of Belleville will read a letter of apology from Bishop Edward Braxton to their congregations Sunday addressing last month's $5 million verdict for conspiring to hide allegations of sexual abuse by a priest involving a former altar boy.

In the letter, dated Sept. 5, Braxton said he followed the trial, in St. Clair County court, and expressed his "profound and sincere remorse and apology to anyone who was ever abused as a minor by a priest in this Diocese."

"I will renew the efforts by the Diocese in preventing any future acts of abuse," Braxton wrote. "I assure you that I will never assign a priest to your parish whose sexual abuse of a minor is known to me."

The diocese has not said whether it would appeal last month's verdict and diocesan officials did not respond to requests for comment.

In last month's trial, the jury found that the diocese conspired to hush sex abuse allegations and allowed the priest free rein in the diocese — even after, court records show, church officials knew he couldn't control his sexual urges toward young boys and girls.


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