Pressure on to Local Sexually Abusive Priest

By Kermit Miller
September 30, 2009

Members of the Missouri-based network of people who were abused by Catholic priests returned to Jefferson City this morning to put pressure on the local diocese to locate abusive clergymen and their victims.

Abuse survivors want to know what happened to a priest named Kenneth Roberts. The apparent target of abuse allegations in Illinois and Texas, Roberts retired from the church in the mid 90's. The Illinois Supreme Court recently tossed out a civil case against Roberts on a filing deadline technicality. A 1995 letter from Roberts to the Dallas diocese indicates he planned to retire in Osage Beach, Mo.

"We in SNAP believe Bishop Gaydos has a moral duty to try to find and help anybody who was hurt by these two predator priests,” SNAP Director David Clohessy said.

Last month, SNAP went public with the allegations against father Jerry Howard who once served in the Boonville parish and later worked as a youth counselor at a rehab hospital in Columbia.

"I, Mark McAllister, was abused by Father Howard...mentally, physically, emotionally, and sexually,” sexually abused victim Mark McAllister said.

The church settled with McAllister, but Howard was never prosecuted.

“Admitting crimes, when other people have disclosed them,” Clohessy said. “And settling lawsuits instead of going to court... those are simply public relations decisions and business decisions. Those are the absolute minimum that any CEO would do.”

SNAP today delivered a letter to Bishop John Gaydos demanding that he do more to encourage abuse victims to step forward. A diocese spokesman said the church has already done a lot, speaking from the pulpit about Father Howard and writing about that case in church publications.

"Now, whether that's enough or not in some people's views, I don't know,” Jefferson City Diocese Ron Vessell said. “But that's certainly what we've done.”

Vessell said the Jefferson City Diocese knew nothing about Father Kenneth Roberts until reading SNAP’s news release this morning.

There is no indication he ever had any assignments from or other contact with the mid-Missouri church.

The SNAP organization believes he now lives in the Cincinnati, Ohio area.


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