Priest and Teacher Charged with Sexual Assault

United Press International
October 31, 1986

Discovery of pornographic materials in a Roman Catholic priest's room may result in additional charges against the cleric and a lay teacher already accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy, authorities said Friday.

The Rev. James Funke, who was charged with sexual assault Thursday, is accused of attacking the youth in early October at the rectory of St. Bernadette Catholic Church in Lemay, where he is associate pastor.

Funke is also a biology teacher at Bishop DuBourg High School in St. Louis, where the teenager is a student.

Jerome Robben, 44, a history teacher at DuBourg, was also charged with sexual assault Thursday in St. Louis County Circuit Court. Police said Robben did not actually take part in the attack but encouraged the youth to submit.

About six former DuBourg students were being interviewed because they also may have been victimized.

Police seized a large quantity of what they called child pornography from the priest's room at the rectory said additional charges could be filed.

Both men were arrested Wednesday in an investigation prompted by a telephone call to a child-abuse hot line.

Officers said Robben and Funke both have given statements to police.

Auxiliary Bishop Edward O'Donnell of the St. Louis Archdiocese said the church, "like the rest of the community, was deeply concerned about the allegations, especially when people holding positions of trust are involved. We are concerned especially about any young people involved."

Detective Susan Carr said the victim's mother became suspicious of Funke's relationship with her son because the priest purchased things for the boy but never visited the family.

Carr said the youth told his mother about several incidents at the rectory after she questioned him. The mother took the boy to a counseling service, which called the hot line.

The victim was enticed rather than intimidated and consented to Funke's advances, detectives said. They said the priest bought beer for the boy and gave him money for a car.

Materials found at Robben's home included photographs, videotapes and commercial films, investigators said. They said Robben's activities were confined to taking pictures and tapes.

Funke and Robben were suspended pending the investigation's completion, school officials said.


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