Woman Recounts Priest Kissing, Touching Her

By Patricia Rice
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
July 13, 2002

She settled her sexual abuse complaint against the St. Louis priest, but she says she is telling her story so more people report inappropriate behavior.

A Kansas City woman is speaking publicly about her sexual abuse complaint that she privately settled for $25,000 with a St. Louis priest and the Archdiocese of St. Louis six years ago. She says she is speaking out to encourage others to report abuse for the safety of children.

"One reason to speak out is because there are very few people like me who have resources to stand up for themselves," said Corinne Corley, 46, a lawyer.

The priest, the Rev. Alfred Fitzgerald, of Shrewsbury, now 62, admitted the abuse as part of her settlement. In a brief phone conversation, Fitzgerald declined to comment.

Fitzgerald is not allowed to say Mass and holds no public ministry, said Terry Edelmann, archdiocesan spokesman. His last public assignment was in 1996 when Corley filed her complaint. He now lives in a supervised, monitored, restricted area at an archdiocesan retirement home, she said. Corley's complaint is the only one on file against Fitzgerald with the archdiocese, Edelman said.

Fitzgerald taught Corley's religion class at the old Corpus Christi High School, then a girls school with about 200 students, in Jennings. She was one of his singers and guitar players at school Masses.

In 1970, when she was a high school sophomore, the guitar group visited a Pentecostal church. At the service, when the lights went out, the priest kissed her repeatedly, Corley said.

"I totally froze, freaked out, I was at his mercy. He had driven us there," she said. "I was totally innocent, a late bloomer who had never been kissed by anyone who wasn't in my family."

Over the next two years, inappropriate sexual touching continued, either in his car or his school office, she said. For more than a decade, he wrote her single-spaced letters often seven pages long.

In 1996, she complained to the archdiocese and demanded his letter of admission and apology with her financial settlement.

After his treatment for sexual misconduct, she was invited to speak at the archdiocese's sexual review committee meeting about his future. Bishop Michael J. Sheridan, then a St. Louis auxiliary bishop, and some panel members questioned her. One male panel member asked her if the abuse was "really so bad," she said.

Parishes and schools where priest served

* Corpus Christi High School, Jennings

* St. Sebastian Parish, Glen Owen

* DuBourg High School, St. Louis

* St. Dominic Savio, Affton

* St. Francis de Sales, St. Louis

* St. William,Woodson Terrace

* Our Lady of Good Counsel, Bellefontaine Neighbors

* St. Pius V, St. Louis

* Our Lady of Mount Carmel, St. Louis

* St. Rose of Lima, De Soto


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