Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
A Colorado Springs priest was sentenced on Wednesday to four years of probation for “contributing to the delinquency of a minor.” He had been accused of molesting a boy, giving him liquor and marijuana, kissing the boy on the lips, taking the boy to get his nipples pierced, and engaging in other sexual acts.
Now, Colorado church officials should aggressively seek out others who may have seen, suspected or suffered the cleric’s crimes.
The crimes and misconduct reportedly happened in 2011 while Fr. Robert Charles Manning was pastor of St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church in Colorado Springs.
Fr. Manning worked in the St. Louis archdiocese for a decade (1997-2007) before following Bishop Michael Sheridan to the Colorado Springs diocese in 2007.
In July, Fr. Manning was acquitted of sexually assaulting the boy, but convicted on other charges before Judge Robin Chittum.
Since being charged, Fr. Manning has been living in St. Louis at a retirement home.
According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, “An arrest affidavit alleges the boy came to Manning for advice on becoming a Catholic and the priest began giving him private lessons, during which he gave the boy alcohol and marijuana. Colorado Springs Police also say Manning took the boy to get his nipples pierced, kissed the boy on the lips and engaged in other sexual acts, after which he thanked the boy.”
There are a number of troubling aspects to the Fr. Manning case, SNAP contends.
In 2002, when the church’s long-simmering clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis exploded, Fr. Manning disappeared from the annual Official Catholic Directory.
In 2007, in an unusual move, he was transferred to Colorado Springs.
It’s odd for an archdiocesan priest to be sent elsewhere with little or no explanation. We believe that bishops in Missouri and Colorado owe their flocks the truth about this transfer. And they should aggressively seek out others who may have been hurt by Fr. Manning.
He’s on probation, not behind bars. So he could still hurt others. And he could still be prosecuted. Perhaps others who ignored or concealed his crimes could also be prosecuted.
So we beg every Catholic church employee and member – in St. Louis and Colorado Springs – to seek out others with knowledge or suspicions about Manning’s misdeeds. We beg them to call police and prosecutors so that kids can be protected and justice can be done.