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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

Unique new sex abuse & cover up suit filed vs. archdiocese

Church is charged with "conspiracy" and "fraud" for recent acts

New archbishop is also named as a defendant here for the first time

Twice-accused molester was quietly put back in a parishes 6 months ago

Priest was first accused of sexual misconduct in 2004 and was ousted from school

SNAP asks “How many other suspended sexually troubled priests are being quietly re-assigned?”

WHAT
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will
--- disclose a new child molestation/cover up lawsuit against a local priest who just six months ago was put back into two city parishes despite earlier abuse allegations against him,
--- explain why, for the first time, key church staffers are charged with recently committing "conspiracy" and "fraud," and
--- explain why the case is "the clearest example" that the local church hierarchy has not 'reformed.'

WHEN
TODAY, Wednesday, July 14, 2:00 p.m.

WHERE
On the sidewalk outside the archdiocesan headquarters, 4445 Lindell (near Taylor)

WHO
Three clergy abuse victims who belong to a national support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including the organization’s national director

VISUALS
A photo of the priest will be available, along with copies of the lawsuit and a written statement by the victim

WHY
For the first time, a new civil lawsuit charges that top archdiocesan officials "conspired" to "commit fraud" by misleading a clergy sex abuse victim about his predator, Fr. Michael A. Freymuth. One of those church authorities involved was then-Msgr. Richard Stika, recently promoted to bishop of the Knoxville Tennessee diocese.

Freymuth had already been accused of abuse twice and removed in 2004 from a Catholic school. In a meeting in 2005, key church staffers lead this victim to believe Freymuth would be kept away from kids and out of ministry, the suit says. Because of these "assurances" by the church hierarchy, the victim "did not go to the police or pursue any legal action" until now.

Instead of keeping their pledge, just six months ago, archdiocesan officials quietly re-assigned Freymuth to two inner city parishes, with no warning or notice to the public or the parishioners. (In January 2009, SNAP learned that Freymuth was living at Visitation parish on the northside, and working at St. Cronan's parish on the southside. When SNAP publicly disclosed this, and another victim said he would soon sue Freymuth, the archdiocese ousted him again.)

The archdiocese's "willful, wanton and reckless" actions warrant punitive damages, according to the suit. "As a direct result of (the archdiocesan) fraud and conspiracy," the victim "continues to suffer great pain" and the archdiocese should pay punitive damages, the lawsuit contends.

In 2002, a young man told church staff that Freymuth molested him roughly 15 years before. Stika (then archdiocese’s “point man” on abuse, didn’t believe the victim.

In 2004, a second young man, Timothy J. Bartin of Columbia (573 499 9485), made an in-person report to a local church panel, detailing inappropriate sexualized “grooming” behavior by Freymuth against him. Bartin was roughly 12 at the time. In December 2004, the archdiocese allegedly secretly suspended Freymuth for the first time. But no announcement was made about it until about a month later, when SNAP disclosed Bartin's allegations in a January 2005 news release.

At the time of his 2005 suspension, Freymuth was a chaplain at Cardinal Ritter Prep (701 N. Spring Avenue, 446-5500) in St. Louis. He has also worked at four southside parishes (Sts. Mary and Joseph, St. Joan of Arc, St. Gabriel the Archangel, and Holy Family) and one northside parish (St. Elizabeth). All but one of the parishes (Sts. Mary and Joseph) also have elementary schools.

According to the new lawsuit, Freymuth "had domination and influence over" and "sexually abused and exploited" a boy "on numerous occasions" at St. Joan of Arc parish in south city (Hampton & Pernod) and elsewhere. The crimes happened in the early 1980s while Freymuth claimed that he was "providing spiritual counseling, comfort, mentor and advice to the (child)."

The recent re-assignment of Freymuth, into apparently unsupervised parish ministry with unsuspecting parishioners, is evidence that the archdiocese is violating its pledges to protect kids and be open about child sex cases, SNAP says.

CONTACT
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director (314) 566-9790 cell
Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP Outreach Coordinator (314) 862-7688


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


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