AR- Predator priest case starts today
For immediate release: Monday, July 7, 2014
Predator priest case starts today
Defrocked cleric now lives in Little Rock
A clergy child sexual abuse and cover up trial begins today involving a Little Rock man who was a Missouri priest.
He is Joseph D. Ross, who has a long history of abuse and sexual misconduct. In 2003, Ross was arrested in Little Rock for loitering for deviant sex.
In 1988, Ross pled guilty to sexual assaulting an 11 year old boy. At that time he admitted he had molested one child in the 1970s.
Court records show that Ross lives in Little Rock.
He is not expected to attend the trial.
“We suspect that dozens of families – in Missouri and in Arkansas- have suffered and are suffering because Catholic officials hid and enabled Ross' crimes,” said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis. She is the Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
This is the first such trial in the St. Louis area since 1999. It's also the first in which the archbishop was punished for contempt and secrecy before the trial even begins, and in which a judge ordered Catholic officials to give thousands of pages of long secret church records to a victim.
Still, despite his admission and conviction, St. Louis Catholic officials quietly put him back on the job around unsuspecting parishioners at an inner city church where he sexually assaulted another child.
The trial is only the second civil pedophile priest trial in St. Louis history and the first since 1999.
“We are grateful to the brave and persistent victim in this case. Her courage will inspire others to get help and expose Catholic officials who commit and conceal heinous crimes against children,” said Dorris.
Here's how BishopAccountability.org – a credible, independent, research-based website – summarizes Ross' clerical career: “Pled guilty 1988 to sexual assault of 11 yr old boy 12/86. Sentenced to 2 yrs probation and treatment. Admitted then he had been accused of molesting one youth in 1970s & had also been arrested for propositioning a police officer & public indecency. Allowed to return to work. Removed 3/02. Civil suit filed 11/02 alleged abuse of 14 yr old boy in 1977. Laicization announced 8/02. Arrested 9/08 on new charges from 2000. Crim. charges dropped 8/10. Lives in AR. New suit filed 10/11 re abuse of girl.”
“We beg anyone with knowledge or suspicions of crimes by Ross and cover ups by his church colleagues to help this brave young woman by speaking up now,” said David Clohessy, SNAP's director. “It’s not too late for others who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes to come forward, expose predators, protect kids and start healing. It’s always tempting to keep quiet about child sex crimes – whether known or suspected. However, it’s also always irresponsible. Kids are only safe when adults are brave and caring enough to speak up.”
St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson made national headlines last month when he claimed he couldn't recall details about abuse cases 193 times in a deposition.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)