Priest Id'd in 2 Abuse Lawsuits

Associated Press, carried in Belleville News-Democrat
May 21, 2004

St. Louis — Lawsuits filed Thursday accuse a St. Louis-area priest of sexually abusing two boys, one in the 1970s, the other in the 1980s. Meanwhile, the leader of an organization that aids victims of abuse by priests believes there were other victims.

Both lawsuits allege abuse by the Rev. Donald Straub — known as "Father Duck." David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said at least six other people have said they also were abused by Straub, 55, who now lives with relatives in St. Louis County.

Straub's current occupation is unknown.

"Our concern is that tonight he may be baby-sitting his next-door neighbor's kids," Clohessy said. "A change of occupation does not cure a child molester."

In addition to Straub, both lawsuits name the Archdiocese of St. Louis and Archbishop Raymond Burke. Straub did not return a phone call seeking an interview. A spokesman for the archdiocese declined comment.

Straub was ordained in 1973 and spent most of his career at three St. Louis-area locations — St. George's Catholic Church in south St. Louis County, Our Lady Queen of Peace parish in House Springs, and St. Charles Borromeo parish.

He took a leave of absence for four years after leaving the St. Charles parish in 1986, Clohessy said. Straub then spent 1991 at Sacred Heart church in Dodge City, Kan. SNAP officials believe Straub has not served as a priest since.

In one lawsuit, a man in his 40s who is now a police officer at an unspecified Missouri location said Straub began abusing him at age 8 in the mid-1970s. The lawsuit said the abuse occurred over a two-year period at the St. George's rectory and at a lake house in St. Clair.

The second lawsuit was filed by a man in his 30s, now of Philadelphia. His parents, of Missouri, joined the suit.

The lawsuit alleges abuse on more than a dozen occasions from 1980 to 1982, starting at age 11. The boy and his family attended the parish in House Springs, south of St. Louis, where Straub was serving at the time.

Attorney Rebecca Randles said that in both cases, Straub would give boys alcohol as a way to coerce them into sexual conduct. The fact that it took years for the victims to come forward, she said, was not unusual.

"What is a 9-year-old, a 10-year-old going to say to a priest, 'I know this is wrong?,"' she said.

The lawsuits alleged that the abuse caused psychological problems and depression for both victims. The suits did not use their real names.

Randles said more than 40 lawsuits involving at least 10 priests have been filed in St. Louis since the church abuse scandal broke two years ago.


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