For immediate release: Sunday, July 6, 2014
A clergy child sexual abuse and cover up trial is set to begin tomorrow, only the second 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.
We suspect that dozens of local families have suffered and are suffering because Catholic officials hid and enabled Ross' crimes.
This is the first such trial in the St. Louis area
--in which the archbishop was punished for contempt and secrecy before the trial even begins, &
--in which a judge ordered Catholic officials to give thousands of pages of long secret church records to a victim.
Fr. Joseph D. Ross has a long history of abuse and sexual misconduct and for decades, Catholic officials hid his crimes. In 1988, Ross plead guilty to sexual assaulting an 11 year old boy. At that time he admitted he had molested one child in the 1970s.
Still, despite his admission and conviction, St. Louis Catholic officials quietly put him back on the job around unsuspecting parishioners at St. Cronan's church in south St. Louis city where he sexually assaulted another child.
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.
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.
Finally, there are at least two other pending civil child sex abuse lawsuits pending against Carlson and his archdiocese that are clearly within the statute of limitations and could result in trials. One involves the suicide of a young victim of Fr. Bryan Kuchar. The other involves Fr. Joseph Jiang, a close friend of Archbishop Robert Carlson.
(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)