SNAP Advocates for Church Sex-abuse Victims

Faith in Focus
October 4, 2009

Members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, held two sidewalk news conferences Wednesday, one outside of the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City and the other in front of Columbia’s downtown police station.

After several alleged church sex-abuse cases have come to light in Missouri recently, SNAP hand-delivered a letter to Bishop John Gaydos of Jefferson City Wednesday. The letter urged the diocese to alert its parishioners to the Rev. Gerald Howard and the Rev. Kenneth Roberts, both of whom have ties to mid-Missouri.

As previously reported in the Missourian, Dr. Mark McAllister of Roanoke, Va., formerly of Boonville, released information about the sexual abuse he said he suffered under the Rev. Gerald Howard in Boonville in the 1980s. McAllister received a $600,000 settlement from the Newark, N.J., Archdiocese, the Jefferson City Diocese and Servants of the Paraclete.

During Wednesday’s news conference, SNAP announced new information about Howard. The network said it had received information from former patients and staff of the now-closed Charter Hospital that Howard was a youth counselor there after leaving Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Boonville.

According to a network news release, SNAP has a letter from one of Howard’s former co-workers, who is now a Columbia police officer, confirming Howard’s employment at the hospital.

SNAP’s letter to the bishop says that Roberts is “a convicted predator from Dallas who is accused of molesting children in Texas, St. Louis and southern Illinois.” Roberts lived in the Jefferson City Diocese and retired to Osage Beach, according to a network news release.

According to The Quad-City Times (Iowa), Roberts was ordained as a priest in the 1960s in Dallas and is the author of the book “From Playboy to Priest.” Roberts kept an apartment in St. Louis County while traveling the country promoting his book and lecturing.

A recent lawsuit filed by Christopher Amenn of O’Fallon, Ill., against Roberts was recently dismissed by the Illinois Supreme Court due to a statue of limitations. Amenn alleges that Roberts abused him when Amenn was 13, during a private meeting. At the time, Roberts was a guest speaker at Amenn’s school.

The network says it has a copy of two key documents—a letter from Roberts to the bishop, indicating that Roberts is living at Osage Beach, and an “intake form” for pedophile priests cases that is filled out by hand by a church official. The form lists Roberts’ address in Osage Beach.

Members of SNAP are concerned that others may have been abused by Howard and Roberts and urges any victims to call their local law enforcement office.

Food for thought:

Since SNAP’s mid-Missouri chapter was created in May 2009, at least seven victims have come forward about church sex abuse.

Do Missouri victims feel more comfortable coming forth about their abuse now that SNAP has a mid-Missouri chapter?

Whom did victims go to for support before SNAP was around?

Are there any Missouri counselors or support groups out there that can speak to their experience with sex-abuse victims?

And have they seen an increase in reports of sex-abuse cases since SNAP’s mid-Missouri chapter was founded?


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