St. Louis priest sentenced to probation
He "contributed to delinquency" of boy
Case has "unusual aspects," SNAP says
Cleric spent more than a decade in MO
But in odd move, he was sent to Colorado
Priest followed a St. Louis bishop who was also sent there
A St. Louis priest with close ties to a former St. Louis bishop was sentenced on Wednesday to four years of probation for “contributing to the delinquency of a minor.” He had been accused of molesting a Colorado 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.
Fr. Robert Charles Manning, a St. Louis native, 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.
“Fr. Manning spent most of his clerical career in St. Louis, so it’s unlikely he only started acting inappropriately around kids once he was transferred to Colorado,” said Barbara Dorris of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, Fr. Manning “has been living in St. Louis at the Regina Cleri Home for retired priests.”
Manning worked at three St. Louis area parishes - St. Alban Roe in Glencoe (1998-2001), St. Lawrence the Martyr in Bridgeton (2003-2004), and St. John Lateran in Imperial (2004-2007). Each has its own parochial elementary school. Fr. Manning allegedly molested a boy in 2011 while the priest was a pastor of St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church in Colorado Springs.
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,” said SNAP director David Clohessy. “We believe the bishops in Missouri and Colorado owe their flocks the truth about this transfer. And we feel they should aggressively seek out others who may have been hurt by Fr. Manning.”
Meanwhile, another predator priest in St. Louis has passed away. He is Fr. Joseph Shannon who was accused in civil lawsuits of molesting at least three children in the Camden New Jersey diocese. Until Sept. 19, when he died, Fr. Shannon had lived for 20 years at the Vianney Renewal Center, one of several St. Louis area Catholic facilities that house child molesting clerics from across the US and Canada.