Man Sues 7 Priests, Alleges Sex Abuse; Effects of Incidents Linger, Former Seminarian Says

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
April 7, 1995

A former Roman Catholic seminarian charges in a lawsuit that he was sexually abused by priests at the former St. Henry's Seminary in Belleville and that he still suffers from serious psychological effects.

Kevin J. Mohr, 32, of New Athens, filed the suit this week against seven priests and a deacon who Mohr says abused him or tolerated sexual abuse while Mohr studied at St. Henry's from 1976 to 1983.

The suit was filed in St. Clair County Circuit Court at Belleville. It also names the Catholic Diocese of Belleville and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, operators of the former seminary, as defendants. The suit says the diocese and the Oblates should have known about the abuse and removed the abusers from having contact with Mohr.

Mohr contends in the suit that he was fondled, sodomized and raped at the hands of priests, a deacon and some unidentified fellow seminarians.

The suit also says that priests at the seminary took Mohr to Tower Grove Park in St. Louis, "where he was forced to lure sex partners" for a priest and a deacon who are two of the defendants in the suit.

The Rev. James Margason, vicar general of the Belleville Diocese, said diocesan officials wouldn't comment on any pending litigation. The Rev. David Kalert, director of the Oblates, was unavailable for comment.

Mohr says he was 13 when he first went to St. Henry's to consider studying for the priesthood. The suit says he had "great admiration, trust, reverence and respect for Roman Catholic priests, and, in fact, believed that he had a vocation as a priest."

He didn't report the alleged abuse until years later because he had held priests in "exalted positions" and that they "had the effect of intimidating (Mohr) into an absolute silence," the suit says. It says he didn't even recall the abuse until he began therapy for depression in April 1993.

The abuse took place at the seminary and at a priest's apartment at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, also operated by the Oblates near Belleville, the suit says.

Three of the individuals named in the suit are among 11 priests and a deacon removed from active ministries in the Belleville Diocese since March 1993 over allegations of sexual misconduct.

Last year, Mohr said in an interview that he'd been trying unsuccessfully to get the Belleville Diocese to pay for therapy he needed as the result of abuse he said he suffered from a ring of homosexual priests while he was a seminarian.

Margason said then that the church had offered "to assist Mr. Mohr with counseling" but had stopped communicating with Mohr after he hired a lawyer.

Mohr was unavailable for comment on Thursday.

The suit says Mohr has "severe and medically diagnosable emotional distress" as a result of the alleged sexual abuse. The suit says Mohr has been disgraced, needs money for continued psychological treatment and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, panic disorder and personality disorder.

The suit seeks more than $ 25,000 from the defendants on each of eight counts of abuse and negligence. A hearing date wasn't set.


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