For immediate release: Monday, April 28, 2014
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-503-0003, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Fr. Robert R. Osborne has passed away. We are grateful he can’t hurt another child ever again. We sympathize with Osborne’s family and for the Catholic parishioners who felt close to him, but we hope his passing will help his victims find healing.
Fr. Osborne was one of eight St. Louis Marianists who have been accused of sexually abusing children. One of them (Brother John Woulfe) was sued in the past few weeks.
Fr. Osborne stepped down as the head of Vianney after he was sued for abuse, claiming the law suit would distract him from his job.
According to a 2006 lawsuit, Fr. Osborne used "his position to gain the trust" of a teenaged student, "coercing him to drink alcoholic beverages, making sexual comments to him, (trying) to observe and photograph him when he was undressed, hugging and kissing him, and making other overt and covert sexual contact with him." At least one other accuser later came forward to police.
Even after a civil suit was settled, Fr. Osborne was not put in a remote and secure treatment facility, nor did he have his priestly faculties removed until several years later. Even after the settlement, Catholic officials let him say mass at a Kirkwood parish until SNAP exposed and criticized this reckless move.
The other proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting St. Louis Marianists include
--Fr. William Christensen, who's accused of molesting at least 30 kids in Bangladesh (and may still be there now).
--Br. William Mueller, who's accused of molesting dozens of kids in Missouri, Colorado and Texas (and still lives in Texas now).
--Br. Louis Meinhardt, who's accused of molesting at least 15 kids at Chaminade and who was only "outed" for the first time in 2011.
--Fr. Daniel A. Triulzi, Br. Tony Pistone, Fr. Charles H. Miller (who reportedly molested a St. Louis teenage girl. Fr. Miller is now working for the Marianists in the literal and figurative power center of Catholicism: Rome.)
And these are just the ones we know about.
Are there predators on the payroll now at local Marianist schools like Vianney and Chaminade? Who knows? The Marianists will of course deny this. But given their long and continuing reckless and callous pattern of secrecy, how can they be trusted?
The absolute least Marianist officials can do now is to permanently post the names, photos and work histories of their child molesting clerics on their website and the websites of the schools they run – Chaminade, Vianney, and others.
This simple, cheap step would protect kids. It would show that maybe Catholic officials take seriously their repeated pledges to be “open” about clergy sex crimes. Roughly 30 Catholic bishops have done this (almost always under intense public pressure).
But they won't. They'll continue hiding behind their public relations staff and their expensive lawyers, saying and doing the absolute bare minimum and trying to exploit every possible legal maneuver and loophole so their cover-ups remain covered up.
Shame on them.
We hope anyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes and cover ups – by Fr. Osborne or other clerics – will speak up, expose wrongdoing, protect kids and start healing.
(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 15,000 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)