Suspended Priest Apologizes to Victim of 20 Years Ago

San Bernardino Sun
April 29, 2002

SANTA ROSA After being suspended by his diocese, a Santa Rosa priest has apologized to the man he's accused of molesting some 20 years ago in Illinois.

The Rev. Anthony Ross has been put on temporary leave pending further church investigation into the incident involving a 15-year-old boy, Bishop Daniel Walsh of the Santa Rosa Diocese said Monday.

"I have caused pain to the young man from Illinois and his family because of my actions in the early 1980s, for which I am profoundly sorry,' Ross said in a written statement. "Since that time, I have participated in therapy and treatment, and I daily attempt to atone for my wrongdoing in the best way I can.'

Ross, 56, came to Santa Rosa from Joliet, Ill., in 1993 to oversee the diocese's Detention Ministry, which included juvenile and adult inmates. He has since been banned from ministering at the Sonoma County Juvenile Hall and the county jail, law enforcement officials said.

The suspension came after a six-member sensitive issues committee recommended suspending Ross. The committee members reviewed letters the priest allegedly sent to the victim in 1983, asking for nude pictures and professing his love for the boy.

The alleged victim, now 36, released the letters last week amid a flurry of sexual-misconduct allegations against priests nationwide. Ross has not denied writing the letters, said diocese spokeswoman Deirdre Frontczak.

"Certainly if he had a history, and if this is a pattern likely to be repeated or is interfering with his ministry, we can't have him serving in the ministry,' she said. "We also don't want to engage in a witch hunt.'

A review of Ross' personnel files found no documentation of any previous allegations or treatment he allegedly received at a California facility. There also are no complaints from inmates in Sonoma County, but the visits Ross made to the juvenile center are being investigated, Frontczak said.

Ross said in the statement he will cooperate with the investigation "so that they can satisfy themselves that I have not caused harm to young people in this community and diocese and that I have not been a threat to anyone for more than 20 years.'

The molestation allegedly occurred in 1981, and the accuser says he is not seeking financial gain from the case. He simply wants Ross ousted from the church.

"My trust in the Catholic Church was ruined forever, my trust in relationships was hard to recover, and my belief in God is marginal at best,' he told The Herald News in Joliet. "The emotional consequences to the survivor of clergy abuse cannot be taken lightly.'

Ross' brother, the Rev. Richard Ross, also has apologized after making comments last week in The Herald News about those who are coming forward with accusations of sexual wrongdoing by priests.

"I don't have much sympathy for people who somehow couldn't stop whatever happened,' he told the newspaper. "I'll take all of these people who were abused and I'll abuse them myself with a baseball bat.'


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