Former St. Louis Priest under Arrest for Sexual Assault


October 1, 2008

KSDK - A former St. Louis priest was arrested in Arkansas last week, accused of sexually assaulting a child at local church.

Joseph Ross, currently awaiting extradition back to St. Louis, hid a dark secret during his time as a priest in the Catholic Churches.

"At least three times, Father Ross was arrested for sexual offenses," said David Clohessy, the President of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

In the late 1980s, Ross was arrested and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor of sexual abuse. The Archdiocese sent him for treatment, but he remained in the church for more than a decade, until the Archdiocese kicked him out.

Archdiocese officials would not comment on pending legal issues, but in a statement, they said: "Mr. Ross was removed from the ministry in 2002, under the Archdiocese's policy...we apologize to all those who have been abused by clergy."

Now they're issuing one more apology to Ross's latest alleged victim.

The alleged abuse went on for a period of two years while Ross was assigned at St. Cronan's Catholic Church. That was in 2000. It took eight years after the alleged event to bring charges against Ross.

"The overwhelming majority of priests that abuse kids never ever see the inside of a courtroom, let alone a jail cell," Clohessy said.

So SNAP members said the arrest sends a very clear message.

"If you're being molested and you speak up and you call the police, good things will happen," Clohessy said. "The right things will happen. You will be protected and others will be protected."

Even so, they said there were no true victories in those cases.

The case against Ross will be sealed until he actually appears in court in St. Louis.


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