MO - Archdiocese in court Friday, seeks to limit discovery
Archbishop wants to give less info to victim
Carlson’s lawyers will try tomorrow to limit judge’s ruling
Case involves convicted predator priest who abused in 2000
Catholic officials have been ordered to turn over 20 years of records
The documents would cover child sex abuse allegations vs. all church employees
Tomorrow, lawyers for the archbishop will try to severely restrict that order and limit the information they must provide to the alleged victim of a convicted St. Louis predator priest.
The case involves Fr. Joseph D. Ross, who allegedly molested a girl at an inner city parish in 2000. In 1988, Ross pled guilty to sexually assaulting an 11 year old boy during confession. Despite that conviction, Catholic officials quietly put Ross back on the job but told no one about his crimes.
In May, a St. Louis city judge ordered Catholic officials to turn over records about 20 years of child allegations of sexual abuse by employees of the archdiocese.
Lawyers for Archbishop Robert Carlson want Judge Robert Dierker to reconsider his order. They say they should be forced to provide records for a shorter period of time, only about alleged child sex crimes, only about accused priests (not bishops, seminarians, brothers, nuns, teachers and other employees), and only records that have already been made public through criminal or civil court filings.
“Carlson wants to basically gut the judge’s order and keep his secrets secret,” said David Clohessy of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “If he gets his way, Carlson will get a lot of information from a teenaged victim and, in turn, provide her with virtually nothing new.”
“It’s the worst of both worlds here. Carlson is asking for tons of private emails to and from a deeply wounded teenager, the victim in this case,” said Barbara Dorris of SNAP. “But he argues that he should have to turn over almost nothing of substance to her and her attorneys.”
Dorris says that Carlson’s legal maneuvers prove “that bishops’ obsession with secrecy by in clergy sex cases is as strong today as it’s ever been,” only now “bishops work harder and smarter and more quietly to keep their role in clergy sex crimes hidden.”
Dierker also ordered Carlson to produce
--correspondence between Ross and the now-retired Cardinal Justin Rigali, who headed the St. Louis archdiocese for years, and
--material sent by St. Louis Catholic officials to the Vatican in their effort to defrock Ross.
Carlson’s lawyers also want those parts of Dierker’s order reversed.
The hearing is tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 15 at 9 a.m. before Judge Dierker in Division 18 in St. Louis city circuit court.
A photo of Ross is available at BishopAccountability.org
Ross has lived in Arkansas in recent years. He worked at parishes in University City, Lemay, Pacific, Woodson Terrace and St. Louis city.
At least one Ross victim is represented by St. Louis attorneys Ken Chackes (369 3902, firstname.lastname@example.org). St. Louis lawyer Scott Rosenblum has represented Ross.
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.