Case Vs. Predator Priest Is Withdrawn; He Walks Free; SNAP Responds

August 6, 2010

Statement by Barbara Dorris, Outreach Director 314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell

This case against Fr. Joseph D. Ross can be re-filed later and we hope it will be. For now, though, kids are less safe, so it’s critical that those who know anything about Ross’ crimes and church cover ups speak up immediately.

We know this brave girl well, believe her totally, and deeply appreciate her courage. Kids are safer today because she became strong enough to report his horrible crimes against her.

This pattern is not unusual. Often, cunning child predators find and hurt kids who, for any number of reasons, face very tough odds in criminal court. Sometimes, they are kids with physical disabilities, or language difficulties or without much family support. Sometimes, the crimes are so bizarre that prosecutors fear jurors may have difficulty believing them. Child sex cases often involve no or few witnesses or hard physical evidence, so it’s hard to convict child predators. There are many reasons why prosecutors delay or decline to pursue them.

We strongly suspect that other Ross victims have been told they can’t file criminal charges against him because of the criminal statute of limitations. We hope they’ll check out their civil legal options as well. Often, civil child sex abuse cases, especially against Catholic institutions, can unearth cover ups, expose wrong-doers, and protect others even when the criminal justice system can’t.

According to news accounts, Ross pleaded guilty in 1988 to sexually assaulting an 11 year old boy. He was sentenced to two years probation and treatment. During the investigation, Ross admitted that he had earlier been accused of molesting a different child in 1970s and had been twice been arrested for other sex crimes - propositioning an undercover police officer for sex and for public indecency.

The archdiocese placed Ross on leave March 2002 and defrocked him in August 2007. A civil suit against him was filed in November 2002 alleging that he abused a 14 year old boy in 1977. (It’s not clear whether this is the same boy involved in the 1988 criminal case.)

Ross worked at parishes in University City, Lemay, Pacific, Woodson Terrace and St. Louis city.

At least one Ross victim, maybe more, are represented by St. Louis attorneys Ken Chackes and Susan Carlson. St. Louis lawyer Scott Rosenblum represents Ross.

We’re confident that no matter what happens in the legal arena, this brave girl will continue her progress in recovery, thanks in part to the support of her loving family. No matter what judges and courts and police and prosecutors do, she is on the right path and will keep getting better, knowing she’s done the right thing and that the worst of this ordeal is behind her.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 9,000 members across the globe. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is

Contacts: David Clohessy (314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915 home), Barbara Blaine (312 399 4747)


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