Former Priest Being Sued for Alleged Abuse

Belleville News-Democrat
June 22, 2004

St. Louis — An advocacy group on Monday accused three dioceses, including the Belleville Diocese, of refusing to take responsibility in the case of a former Roman Catholic priest being sued for alleged sexual abuse of a minor.

An Illinois man in November alleged he was abused in 1984 as an eighth-grader at St. Mary's Catholic School in Belleville by the now-retired Rev. Kenneth Roberts, the nationally recognized author of a book called "Playboy to Priest."

Roberts spent a week as a guest priest and speaker at the parish.

The suit named as defendants Roberts, the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and the dioceses of Belleville and Dallas, which all had some involvement with the former priest.

Since then, lawyers for St. Louis and Dallas have filed motions objecting to the case being filed in Illinois. Lawyers for the Belleville diocese filed documents saying that Roberts was employed by the Dallas diocese.

"Father Kenneth Roberts is not, nor never has been, a priest of the Belleville Diocese," Monsignor James Margason, vicar general for the Belleville Diocese, said in a written statement Monday. "He is a priest of the Diocese of Dallas, Texas."

The advocacy group, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, held a news conference Monday in St. Louis to say the dioceses were playing "hot potato" with the case.

David Clohessy, the group's national director, wrote to the dioceses Monday. He asked them to stop the "legal hardball" to help Roberts' alleged victim with healing.

Roberts' whereabouts were not clear Monday.

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