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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release
Giving Voice to Victims

For immediate release:
Tuesday, November 11, 2008

St. Louis: Vianney/Osborne/Marianists

Fact Sheet

Isn’t there just one accuser?

Last November’s Post Dispatch reports two accusers. And a third has come forward recently and filed a police report.
 
Was only sexual abuse alleged?

No, several boys reported that Osborne gave them alcohol. And Osborne admitted keeping liquor in his office at Vianney.
 
Wasn’t he ‘cleared’ by police?

Nope. After a thorough investigation, the police found the allegations credible enough that they forwarded their report to the county prosecutor.
 
But the prosecutor declined to press charges, didn’t he?

Yes he did. Keep in mind several facts: Most criminals are never charged.  Child sex cases are very tough to win. Most prosecutors are reluctant to take on high profile cases where the defendant is a trusted religious figure.

Wasn’t he ‘cleared’ by a church investigation?

This claim, that an accused priest has been ‘cleared’ by a church probe, has been made hundreds of times but they will never reveal how the investigation was carried out, who they spoke with, what evidence was discovered, etc. Why should the church investigate crimes? Isn’t that the job of trained law enforcement professionals?
 
No one from the church ever contacted one of the victim’s therapist, lawyer, or family members.

But the insurance company forced the Marianists to settle the lawsuit, right?

--The Marianists say this but have produced no proof of this. In our 17 years with SNAP, no church official anywhere in the US has ever claimed that an insurance company “forced” them to settle a case.

But maybe the insurance company really DID make them settle the case?

-- Maybe. But if so, the question then becomes “Why would an insurer force a settlement if there was no evidence of a crime?” Insurance companies try to make a profit. Why would they willingly give away money for something that did not happen?

Let’s say the insurance company DID force the Marianists to settle.

-- In that case, the Marianists should be ashamed of themselves for hanging an innocent man out to dry and Osborne should sue them. If the Marianists believe Osborne is innocent, and to save money they settled this case, they are irresponsible and immoral and every Marianist employee should be up in arms at this injustice.

Osborne has been in education his entire life. If he’s innocent, why don’t the Marianists assign him to one of their dozens of schools across the country.

But Fr. Osborne is such a wonderful man, has done so much for so many, is widely loved. . .

Of course he is. Most predators are. If a predator doesn’t work hard to come across as caring, kind person, no kid would want to be with him and no parent would let their child spend time with him.

Other facts to consider:

-- if one of the accusers is lying, think about who he’s fooled: his dad, his therapist, the Kirkwood police, the most experienced sex abuse attorney in Missouri, and several veteran members of SNAP (all of whom have spoken with hundreds of clergy sex abuse victims).

--If Osborne’s innocent:
-- why hasn’t he spoken publicly about the case?

-- why does he continue to hide behind his lawyer?

-- why won’t the Marianists let Osborne work at any of their schools?

-- why didn’t Archbishop Burke make a public announcement before letting Osborne work in your parish?

Statements

 Statement by Barbara Dorris of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests 862 7688

 The bar for prosecution of child sex abuse cases is a high one. It's hard to build a successful case when it may largely be the word of a couple of kids against a prominent priest. But it can be done, and we hope it will be done against Osborne soon.

 We're disappointed that no criminal charges are being filed against Osborne now, but hope that others who he manipulated and exploited will come forward soon. That's what happened in the Kuchar case - once a mistrial occurred, others with information finally were brave enough to come forward, and a conviction resulted.

 It's hard to disclose abuse, especially when you're a teenager. It's even harder in a closely-knit context like a high school. And it may be hardest of all when the predator is a well-connected clergyman. But we're hopeful other Osborne victims will do what's right, protect others, and speak up.

 Still, it's important to remember that at least two youngsters filed police reports against Osborne and we applaud them for showing such strength. We hope that other kids and adults will follow their courageous lead and come forward now.

 Others have been hurt by Osborne. We've heard from a few of them. We ache for them and pray for their recovery. We also hope they'll call the police soon. (At least one of Osborne's victims was treated with great compassion by the Kirkwood police and we commend them for that.)

 What matters most is that the first Osborne victim to come forward is getting better, and that it's harder now for Osborne to gain access to other vulnerable teen

*************************************************************************************

  Statement by Fred Carr of St. Louis (314) 838 0296
St. Louis SNAP outreach director, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Three individuals have now accused Fr. Robert Osborne of child sex abuse, two recently and one some years ago.

 It is tragic that another child may have been hurt, but it is admirable that he and his family are strong enough to come forward and smart enough to go to criminal authorities, not church or school authorities.

 The Kirkwood police are to be commended for urging other victims or witnesses to speak out too. That's the only way the full truth will be known,

 It's incredibly hard to come forward if you have been abused. It's even harder if you're a teenager, it's same-gender abuse, and your perpetrator is a popular and powerful priest.
 
The entire Vianney community should be grateful to all three youngsters. Church and school officials should work hard now to foster a supportive atmosphere that enables the victims of sex crimes to feel comfortable and speak up.

Others who suspected or witnessed or experienced Osborne's crimes and misconduct will be tempted now to stay quiet. But now is not the time to be timid. Now is the time to come forward, so the vulnerable are safeguarded and the wounded are healed. 

CONTACT
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director (314) 566-9790 cell
Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP Founder and President (312) 399 4747 cell
Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP National Outreach Director (314) 862 7688

Letters

 March 2, 2006

 Dear Brother Glodek:

 Once again, we find ourselves trying to persuade you to do what Jesus told us to do: reach out to the lost and wounded sheep.

 There are now at least five separate allegations of misconduct against Fr. Robert Osborne. At least four of them are recent. At least three have been reported to the police.

 They include:

 -- a report to Kirkwood police involving alleged child sexual abuse,

-- a report to Kirkwood police that Osborne gave alcohol to a child,

-- a second ‘similar’ report to Kirkwood police days later,

-- a civil lawsuit in involving child sexual abuse, and

-- an allegedly “unsubstantiated” allegation against Osborne from years ago, which your own public relations woman admitted (but only after repeated questioning at a news conference on the day the civil child molestation case was filed).

Citizens have a duty to help police solve suspected crimes. Your current and former students and staff may have information that could benefit law enforcement. But that information will likely remain hidden unless they are prodded to do so by someone in authority like you.

You have access to thousands of former staff and students. Some of them may have been hurt by Osborne. Some of them may have witnessed misconduct by Osborne. They need to be contacted.

They need to understand that secrecy hurts everyone involved. They need to be told that they are helping, not hurting, their alma mater by speaking up. They need to know that even though the criminal justice system can seem daunting, they have an obligation to tell police what they know.

Please don’t repeat the mistake you made with another accused Marianist child molester: Brother William Mueller. After pressure from our group, you sent out short, vague letters to your former students. Sadly, you made no mention of law enforcement. Instead, you simple told people they could call your office with any information.

Brother Glodek, these are alleged crimes. They must be handled by independent professionals in law enforcement, not by biased amateurs in the church hierarchy. We urge you to make this clear to all your present and former students and staff.

Finally, we ask that you correct at least some of the misinformation that has been given out to the Vianney community. Your PR woman has suggested, for example, that the victim's dad gave officials no chance to investigate or suspend Osborne before filing suit. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

In fact, both the father and the boy's therapist had several conversations – in person and on the phone - with Vianney and Marianist staff before they took legal action. Like so many others who reluctantly file child sex abuse lawsuits against church officials, this family sued only when it was clear that neither Vianney nor the Marianists would take prompt action to protect kids from Osborne.

Please take corrective action soon. We look forward to hearing from you. 

David Clohessy

National Director, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
7234 Arsenal Street
St. Louis MO 63143
SNAPclohessy@aol.com


Barbara Dorris
Outreach Director, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
6245 Westminster
St. Louis MO 63108
862 7688, 503 0003
SNAPdorris@gmail.com

 
    In reference to Marianist priest Robert Osborne's case, is possible for a person to do lots of good deeds AND to do some that are destructive. SNAP is NOT unfairly targeting Osborne. Osborne's supporters have inaccurately concluded that Fr. Osborne has been cleared of any wrongdoing in three separate investigations. I have seen in various media sources and letters that he was cleared by the Kirkwood Police Department, the Prosecuting Attorney's Office, and either "The Church" or "The Marianists" (depending on the source).

    It makes no sense to include the Kirkwood Police Department as an agency that "cleared" Osborne. If the police conclude that allegations are baseless, they do not typically forward information about their investigation to the Prosecuting Attorney.

     The decision about whether or not to prosecute includes judgments about whether a case can be won that are based partly on available evidence and partly on other factors, such as whether a jury in a particular community would be able to set aside their preconceived notions of the defendent. Osborne's supporters continuously recycle a reported quote by St. Louis Co. Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch that there was "no evidence at all of criminal conduct". Since there were at least two alleged victims available to testify to criminal conduct (which constitutes "evidence"), my best guess is that Mr. McCulloch must have meant that there was "insufficient corroborating evidence" or a lack of "physical" evidence. Most child sexual abusers are never prosecuted, according to FBI statistics. In my own observation during 20+ years of treating abused children, the cases that have been prosecuted have typically involved either a confession by the abuser or physical evidence such as photographs or video of the abuse. Other types of physical evidence of abuse--such as abuser DNA--is typcially not available, because children do not usually disclose the abuse immediately following an assault episode, and most sexual abuse does not leave lasting evidence of physical harm to the child's body. Therefore, prosecutors are usually forced to rely on victim testimony as their primary evidence. Often the decision is made not to prosecute, even when the child or teen victim is credible, because the hurdles of prosecution seem insurmountable.

   Finally, the supposed investigations by the "Church" and/or the Marianists are questionable, at best. To my knowledge, the Archdiocese did not conduct their own thorough investigation. Certainly I (the victim's long-time therapist and the first person to whom the abuse was disclosed) was never approached or questioned by anyone from the Archdiocese. If the Marianists, whose attorneys have access to all of the same information that I have (and more), are confident that Osborne's actions have all been aboveboard, then it is truly scary what they believe to be appropriate behavior with teens.

    I understand Osborne's supporters' frustration that the civil trial was not held. I, too, believe it would have been enlightening to the community, but with results far different than those that Osborne's supporters assume. Osborne's many good deeds and positive relationships do not change the facts that he caused signficant pain and suffering to at least a couple of kids and their families and that he continues to pose a risk to kids.


Peg Schwartz, MA, MSW, LCSW, ATR-BC
7245 Delmar, Suite 202
University City, MO 63130
(314) 863-0282

Marianists with credible allegations of abuse

Brother John Woulfe

Fr. William Christiansen

Brother Daniel Truliz

Brother William Mueller

Father Robert Osborne

Brother Tony Pistone

Articles

  http://cw11tv.trb.com/news/kplr-news-080107-11,0,632960.story

More Controversy for Ex-Vianney President

By Matt Gamewell,

August 1, 2007, 8:25 PM CDT

There's more controversy in the St. Louis Catholic community. The former President of Vianney High School, who lost his job amidst sexual abuse allegations, is now giving mass at a Kirkwood parish. http://kplr.images.worldnow.com/images/static/video/gfx/icon_video.gifWatch

Father Robert Osborne is a visiting priest at St. Peter's Parish in Kirkwood, just a few miles from the school he was forced to leave last year. Now a Catholic watchdog group is speaking out against the St. Louis Archdiocese and questioning why church leaders are letting Osborne say Mass and be near children.

Criminal charges were never brought against Father Osborne after two Vianney students accused him of sexual abuse early last year. Investigations were conducted by Kirkwood Police and St. Louis County prosecutors, as well as the Marianist community. "In all three instances, they were found, the allegations, not to be credible," said Reverend Monsignor Richard Stika, Episcopal Vicar of the Office of Child and Youth Protection. "It's a presumption that he's innocent, especially when the investigations were done by non-church entities."

A statement from the Marianist Province echoes the same sentiment, "These allegations were not found credible, and Father Osborne's faculties have been reinstated, and he may function as a Catholic priest."

But that's not good enough for SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. "We believe that this violates the most fundamental pledge bishops across America have made time and time again over the past five years, which is that any priest that is credibly accused of molesting a child, will be removed from ministry," said David Clohessy of SNAP.

SNAP believes that since Osborne lost his job at Vianney, he should also lose the right to be a priest. "We just think this is an incredibly hurtful and callous move to the two boys who reported being molested by Father Osborne, and we think it's an incredibly reckless move on the part of the Archbishop.

In June, the family of a Vianney student reached an out-of-court settlement on the lawsuit they brought against Father Osborne for sexual abuse. Terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, but the Archdiocese says Osborne did not admit guilt. Osborne and church officials were not available for comment.

Copyright Š 2007, KPLR

Suit Filed Against Vianney President

Rev. Robert Osborne expresses shock, denies and wrongdoing
by Don Corrigan

Rev. Robert Osborne, President of St. John Vianney

Rev. Robert Osborne, the president of St. John Vianney High School in Kirkwood, temporarily stepped aside as the school's head administrator on Tuesday after a lawsuit accused him of inappropriate physical touching and sexual behavior with a student.

Osborne expressed shock and disbelief at the allegations. The 73-year-old Marianist priest denied any wrongdoing and vowed to fight the lawsuit.

"The majority of predators profess their innocence in these situations," said David Clohessy, a spokesperson for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). "If Father Osborne was shocked, it would only be because his superiors did not fully inform him of the allegations made against him earlier as this has unfolded.

"I do know that a lot of people at Vianney and in the community are in shock," added Clohessy. "It's so hard for people to accept that a good teacher and a good administrator can also be a predator."

At a sidewalk news conference outside of the headquarters of the Marianists, 4425 West Pine in St. Louis, members of SNAP outlined details of the civil lawsuit.

The suit brought by a teenager, who has been under the care of a therapist, alleges that the president of St. John Vianney High School recently and repeatedly "sexually, physically and emotionally abused him."

Osborne told students about the allegations and his departure at a school assembly on Tuesday afternoon. Letters were sent out to notify the parents of the 700 boys at the school about the charges.

"The Vianney principal, Larry Keller, has taken over for Rev. Osborne as chief administrator at the high school until this is resolved," said Diane Guerra, a spokesperson for the Marianist Order. "Bob Osborne had an assembly with the students in which he explained what has happened.

"Principal Keller says there have been no negative e-mails or negativity carried into the school," added Guerra. "Vianney officials made counselors available to the students to talk about what has happened, but no students have taken advantage of that. Things are pretty much back to normal."

According to the lawsuit, Osborne used "his positions to gain the trust" of the now teenaged victim, "coercing him to drink alcoholic beverages, making sexual comments to him, observing and attempting to observe and photograph him when he was undressed, hugging and kissing him, and making other overt and covert sexual contact with him."

The victim and his father use pseudonyms in the lawsuit. According to SNAP, two adults - the boy's relative and his therapist - reported Osborne's abuse to the Marianists and requested that he be suspended or kept away from youngsters. Clohessy of SNAP said that the Marianists apparently took no action.

"Some concerns were brought to our attention on Feb. 3," said Guerra. "They were then brought to the attention of Brother Stephen Glodek, head of the Marianist Province of the U.S. He advised Bob Osborne to stay away from the boy and a meeting was set up with the father.

"We set up the meeting and the father canceled," said Guerra. "The therapist called up angry that Osborne had not been removed. In all of this, there was never mention of inappropriate touching or anything sexual. Then we were hit with the lawsuit.

"I think it's pretty hard to say that we were dragging our feet on this," added Guerra. "All this took place in a matter of two weeks. We have procedures that we follow. We don't just listen to someone make charges and then send the principal of a high school away."

Osborne took his vows in 1955 and was ordained in 1966. He first served as acting president of Vianney, located near the northwest corner of I-44 and Kirkwood Road, in 2002. Prior to that, Osborne worked at Chaminade High School and served as a parish pastor.

Marianist spokesperson Guerra said some of the charges made are outrageous and clearly lacking in credibility.

"There have been television reports and charges by the attorney that the Marianists kept Rev. Osborne in his position because he was a good fundraiser in Vianney's current capital campaign," said Guerra. "That is astonishing. It's very upsetting. It is insulting to suggest that the Marianist Order, with its long and respected tradition in education, would not put the safety of children first."

SNAP's Clohessy said if there were any apologies due, they were not in order for the Marianists.

"The attorney in this case is very cautious and conscientious, and not prone to exaggeration," said Clohessy. "The attorney had a sound basis for making the statements that he did."

Clohessy added that this is at least the sixth time in the last few years that a local Marianist has been named as an accused pedophile. The others include Fr. William Christiansen, Brother John Woulfe, Brother William Mueller, Fr. Daniel A. Triulzi, and Brother Tony Pistone.

The latter two - Triulzi and Pistone - were exposed, sued and suspended last year. Christiansen and Woulfe are facing a lawsuit that was heard by the Missouri Supreme Court last fall. No decision has been made at this point.    

Inquiry Finds No Criminal Conduct by Ex-Vianney High President

By William C. Lhotka and Heather Ratcliffe
Post-Dispatch [St. Louis MO]
October 11, 2006

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/stlouiscitycounty/story/B641E098E45C11AD862572050014AF6D?OpenDocument

A criminal investigation of allegations that the Rev. Robert Osborne, the former president of Vianney High School, molested two students has ended with no criminal charges.

"We reached the conclusion there was no evidence at all of criminal conduct," St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch said Wednesday.

Osborne, 73, has always denied the accusations. He remains a defendant in a civil suit filed in February by one of the alleged victims. That case is set for trial in April.

Brother Stephen Glodek, head of the Marianist Province of the United States, the Roman Catholic order that operates the boys' school in Kirkwood, said: "We are just very happy that was the resolution of the investigation. We still face the civil suit from the same parties, and we are awaiting that resolution."

Besides Osborne, Vianney High School and the Marianist Province are defendants.

Speaking for Osborne, his attorney, J. Martin Hadican said Wednesday, "Father Osborne is elated with the outcome and grateful for the thorough investigation."

In a press conference Wednesday afternoon outside the Marianist Province offices on West Pine Boulevard, members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests were first to reveal the end to the criminal probe.

"We are disappointed that no criminal charges are being filed against Osborne now, but hope that others who he manipulated and exploited will come forward soon," said Barbara Dorris, a SNAP member.

McCulloch said that if additional complaints against Osborne were made, they also would be investigated.

The prosecutor praised the efforts of the Kirkwood police, particularly Detective Geoff Morrison, who, he said, conducted an extensive investigation. An attorney in McCulloch's sex crimes unit reviewed the information and re-interviewed the youth who had filed the civil suit and a second Vianney student who had made allegations.

In the Vianney newsletter in September, Osborne said he had been removed from the school because of "unresolved legal matters." He said then that he would vigorously defend himself and was confident he would be vindicated.

Diane Guerra, a spokeswoman for the order, said at the time that Osborne's removal by a six-member Marianists' provincial council was based on the fact that preparing for the pending civil suit would be a distraction from his job of running the school.

SNAP National Director David Clohessy said prosecutors must meet a high bar to file criminal charges, and added, "It's really tempting but naive and reckless to assume this is an exoneration."

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org