MO- Victims blast diocese over predator's defrocking

MO- Victims blast diocese over predator's defrocking

For immediate release: Friday, June 20, 2014

For more information: David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP Director (314 566 9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com

Church lawyer says that priest is defrocked

Victims blast MO bishop for violating church policy

SNAP to Jeff City diocese: “End the continuing secrecy” 

Catholic officials let pedophile legally change his name 

Then they sent him from NJ to “unsuspecting families” in MO 

A lawyer for Catholic church officials disclosed Wednesday that a twice-convicted predator priest who pled guilty this week to sexually assaulting three Missouri boys has been formally defrocked by the Vatican. 

A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is blasting Jefferson City Bishop John Gaydos for keeping this news secret for almost two years and begging him to “aggressively seek out” others who may have “seen, suspected or suffered” the cleric's crimes. 

In an email to the director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, attorney Charles Carella of Roseland NJ (973 994 1700, CMCarella@carellabyrne.com) said Fr. Carmen Sita (known in Missouri as Fr. Jerry Howard) was permanently ousted from the priesthood in September of 2012 by then-Pope Benedict. Carella represents the Newark archdiocese, which ordained Sita/Howard.

(Here's a link to the actual defrocking document: http://www.snapnetwork.org/mo_church_lawyer_says_that_priest_is_defrocked)

“Catholic officials in Missouri callously kept this fact hidden from parents, police, parishioners and the public, which essentially rubbed even more salt into the already-deep wounds of this serial predator's victims and their families,” said David Clohessy of SNAP. “It would have been a real comfort to many victims and to many concerned Catholics to know that Fr. Howard was off the payroll and kicked out by the Vatican. But instead of sharing this information, Bishop Gaydos hid it.”

SNAP also charges that the bishops' secrecy “clearly violates the U.S. bishops formal and allegedly binding national abuse policy, which mandates 'openness and transparency' in clergy sex abuse cases.”

At least five New Jersey men have settled civil cases stemming from child sexual abuse they say they suffered at the hands of Sita/Howard, according to New Jersey attorney Greg Gianforcaro (908 859 2200 phone, 908 310 4624 cell, gianforcarolaw@msn.com). 

At least one former Missouri man has settled a civil case involving Sita/Howard. He is Mark McAllister, who grew up in Boonville, but now lives in Virginia (540 520 8674, macmd@cox.net).

In 1982, Fr. Sita pled guilty in Jersey City to molesting a boy and giving him liquor. Then, Newark Archdiocesan officials let Sita change his name to Gerald “Jerry” Howard and sent him to the Jefferson City Missouri diocese, under then-Bishop Michael McAuliffe. McAuliffe assigned Fr. Howard to Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic parish in Boonville. 

In 2010, Fr. Howard was arrested and charged with molesting three boys in the Boonville area. 

SNAP says it has heard from a fourth man who reports having been sexually assaulted by Fr. Howard in Missouri. At the time of those crimes, Fr. Howard was working as a counselor at the now-shuttered Charter Hospital in Columbia. 

According to church records, the priest himself asked, in December 2011, to be defrocked.

“For 30 years after Sita first pled guilty to child sex crimes, apparently not a single Catholic official in either New Jersey or Missouri made any effort whatsoever to get this predator ousted from the priesthood,” said Clohessy.

After leaving Boonville, Howard worked as a counselor in Boone and in Callaway counties in Missouri. When arrested in 2010, Howard was living in New Jersey again. 

The prosecutor is Doug Abele of Cooper County (ccpa@c-magic.com, 660 882 7577). Howard was represented by attorney Jim Rutter of Columbia (573 303 3909, info@criminallawattorneycolumbiamo.com).

In civil suits, Howard's victims have been represented by attorney Bryan Bacon of Columbia (314 566 8386), Ken Chackes of St. Louis (314 369 3902) and Gianforcaro.

A photo of Fr. Howard, and other information, is available at BishopAccountability.org.

(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) 

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com)

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