MO--Three Springfield predators are just "outed"
For immediate release: Thursday, July 9
For more information:
Three predator priests “outed” for first time
All worked in the Springfield Catholic diocese
They’re “credibly accused child molesters,” church admits
Long secret records about them were just released this week
More hidden documents will be disclosed in the months ahead
Two of them were in St. Louis area as recently as three & six years ago
Three Catholic priests who worked in the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Catholic diocese have been publicly identified for the first time as “credibly accused” child molesters and a victims group wants local church officials to “aggressively seek out and help” others who have been hurt by them.
They are Fr. Thomas Meyer, Fr. James Vincent Fitzgerald and Fr. Michael Charland.
“It’s very likely others who were hurt by these priests are still suffering in shame, silence and self-blame,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis. A Drury University graduate, he heads an international support group called the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “Springfield’s bishop, other clerics and lay Catholics should do everything possible to find and console these wounded victims.”
According to the Official Catholic Directory, from 1998 to 1999, Fr. Meyer was pastor at St. Leo the Great Parish/IHM Parish in Mansfield. In 1987, Fr. Fitzgerald was pastor at St. William’s parish in Gainesville. From 1959-63, Fr. Charland attended seminary at Our Lady of the Ozarks in Carthage.
Fr. Charland is now a psychologist in the Twin Cities area. The other two are deceased. http://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/07/07/oblate-names-released
Yesterday, leaders of a SNAP and a Catholic reform group called Faithful of Southern Illinois (FOSIL) held a news conference in Belleville IL to draw attention to the disclosures. Each of the priests belongs or belonged to a Belleville-based Catholic religious order called the Oblates.
The two groups are also
-- prodding anyone who was hurt by the priests to speak up and get help, and
-- prodding Catholic officials in St. Louis, Belleville and Springfield to “come clean” with more information about the priests and aggressively seek out their victims.
“Over the years, these predators had easy access to literally thousands of girls and boys in Missouri, Illinois and elsewhere,” said Barbara Dorris, outreach director for SNAP. “There could be dozens of adults mired in pain, in Mansfield, Gainesville and elsewhere, because of their crimes. Springfield Bishop James Johnston, St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson and Belleville Bishop Edward Braxton should use parish bulletins, church websites and pulpit announcements” to aggressively seek out and offer help to these wounded victims.”
Records about seven predator priests are being released as part of a lawsuit settlement. Only one of the priests (Fr. Fitzgerald) has been publicly exposed before as a credibly accused child molester until now. He lived in Belleville until 2009. Fr. Meyer lived in Belleville as recently as 2012.
One of the clerics spent seven decades as a priest in Missouri and Illinois. From the 1940s until six years ago, Fr. Fitzgerald split his time between six states including assignments in at least three towns in Illinois and two in Missouri.
The two priests who worked in St. Louis archdiocese are Fr. Robert J. Reitmeier (at Holy Guardian Angels Parish) and Fr. Fitzgerald (at St. Michael’s Community).
Besides Fr. Meyer, Fr. Fitzgerald and Fr. Charland, the other three who worked in the Belleville diocese are Fr. Orville Munie, Fr. Paul Kabat and Fr. Emil Twardochleb.
More details about each of the predators and their specific work histories in Missouri and Illinois (including dates, parishes and photos) will be provided at the news conference and/or is available at AndersonAdvocates.com
The records release is part of a settlement in a civil lawsuit brought in Minnesota against the Oblates by a man who reports having been molested by Fr. Fitzgerald. The settlement involved only the Oblates, so the case against the dioceses of Duluth and New Ulm (where the seven also worked) continues. So more long-hidden church records will be divulged in the months ahead.
The attorneys who represent the victim in this case are Jeff Anderson 651 227 9990, 612 817 8665 cell) and Mike Finnegan (651 227 9990). They have also handled clergy sex cases in Belleville and St. Louis.
Fr. Fitzgerald also worked in California, Texas, Florida, Minnesota and South Dakota.
Fr. Meyer also worked in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Fr. Charland also worked in Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Canada.
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.
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.