The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Release
St. Louis predator priest is defrocked
But Catholic officials apparently told no one
Now, cleric is filing suit against one of his accusers
He belongs to controversial religious order based here
SNAP blasts St. Louis church officials for “reckless secrecy”
Group says police and citizens should have been told of allegations
It urges parents at Vianney, Chaminade and St. Mary’s schools to “demand reform”
SNAP is blasting the “callous, reckless and deceitful secrecy” of officials with the St. Louis archdiocese and the Marianists, a religious order to which Christensen belongs. The group believes top church staff should have told citizens and Catholics and law enforcement about the allegations against Christensen. And, SNAP says, the Catholic hierarchy should have clearly informed the public when it deemed the accusations credible enough to formally kick Christensen out of the priesthood.
In 2002, Christensen was sued in St. Louis by a former Chaminade student, Michael Powel, who said Christensen repeatedly molested him as a child. Christensen’s church supervisors refused to accept service of the lawsuit, so Christensen was able to delay the proceedings for five years. In 2007, process servers surprised Christensen at a downtown St. Louis bar he organized. But Powel died of a brain tumor before the suit could be resolved.
Powel was represented by St. Louis attorney Joe Bauer. Other attorneys handling cases against the Marianists include Ken Chackes (St. Louis. 314 872 8420) and Adam Horowitz (Miami, 305 931 2200).
Christensen, now in his late 60s/early 70s, also taught at McBride High School and started a non-profit called the Institute of Integrated Rural Development in Bangladesh.
A photo of Christensen, and a summary of allegations against him, is available at BishopAccountability.org
At least five other local Marianists have been named as accused pedophiles. They include Fr. Robert R. Osborne, Brother John Woulfe, Brother William Mueller, Fr. Daniel A. Triulzi, and Brother Tony Pistone. Each faces/faced one or more civil lawsuits. Litigation against Triulzi and Mueller has been settled. The religious order runs Chaminade, Vianney and St. Mary’s high schools in St. Louis.
SNAP is urging parents of students at those schools to demand openness and reform by the Marianists.
Sued 2002 by a man alleging sexual abuse by Christensen and Br. John J. Woulfe at Chaminade Prep in St. Louis, when the boy was age 15-17. On appeal, the MO Supreme Court reversed an earlier decision and ruled that repressed memories were admissable andthe suit was not time-barred. The abuse is alleged to have included oral sex, anal sodomy, and the viewing of pornography. Christensen was not actually served with suit until 10/07.
Former priest turns on sex abuse accuser
Published Date: January 12, 2011
A prominent human rights activist today began a legal defense of her allegations of sexual abuse lodged against a former US priest living in Bangladesh.
Former Marianist William A. Christensen, who was last year stripped of his priesthood and expelled by his congregation, is suing Rosaline Costa, coordinator of Church-based Hotline Human Rights Bangladesh (HHRB), who accuses him of sexual abuses of young boys in Bangladesh over a period of many years.
He claims Costa has defamed him and is claiming damages of 100 million taka (US$1.4 million).
The parties appeared today in court in Netrokona district, about 159 kilometers northeast from Dhaka.
Christensen arrived in Bangladesh more than 20 years ago after being accused of sexual abuse, along with Brother John J. Woulfe, in the American state of Missouri.
“William abused me sexually from 1996 to 1999 and as a result I became physically and mentally ill,” Umar Faruq Jinnah, 25, a Muslim from northwestern Bogra district said in a statement in response to an inquiry into the ex-priest’s behavior.
“He had good relationship with my family and gave me lot of money, good food and valuable goods to silence me.”
The former priest founded the Institute of Integrated Rural Development (IIRD), an NGO working for rural poor, in 1987 and holds the position of advisor and fundraiser.
Costa claims that Christensen used IIRD development works as a front to sexually abuse a number of boys aged from 12 to 18 years.
“He molested a number of non-Christian boys over the years and we came to know about 30 cases. He silenced them with money and also intimidated some of the abused,” Costa told ucanews.com recently.
“In 2007, I questioned him in private about sexual allegations but he became very aggressive, reacted negatively and denied everything.”
Costa approached the Marianists through the US superior Stephen Glodek, based in St. Louis, Missouri, requesting Christensen be recalled from Bangladesh, at least temporarily. Glodek initially refused to do so.
“The Marianist general council in Rome and the superior in US were negative on the first approach, because the letter of accusation didn’t have enough evidence,” Costa said. Then, on 28 April 2008, Glodek emailed Costa requesting names and addresses of the alleged abuse victims.
“I’m writing to inform you that we are beginning here to look into the allegations of sexual abuse and financial mismanagement that you describe in your letter,” he wrote.
“We’ll immediately contact them and begin the investigative process according to our USA guidelines in these matters.”
The matter was taken to apostolic nuncio in Bangladesh, Archbishop Joseph Marino, and Dhaka Archbishop Paulinus Costa, who is the president of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh (CBCB).
The two prelates called Christensen personally, but he denied the allegations and accused Costa and IIRD staff of maliciously blackening his name. Despite repeated follow-up telephone calls, Christensen refused to answer further questions by the archbishops.
The Vatican instructed the nuncio and Dhaka archbishop to conduct independent investigations resulting in Christensen being found guilty of a number of sexual abuses while working with IIRD.
“William used to keep one or two [boys] as aides with him and eventually abused them during day and night,” one witness, Asfaq Hossain, said.
“He’s a hypocrite and I demand his punishment.”
On November 22, 2010 the apostolic nunciature in Bangladesh informed Christensen in writing that Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the US province of the Marianists had expelled him from the priesthood and the congregation with the provision of an appeal against verdict within 10 days of the letter.
Bangladesh’s six Catholic dioceses then issued a letter to their parishes not to allow him to perform any priestly ministry.
Holy Cross Bishop Moses Costa of Dinajpur expressed deep concerns over the alleged sexual abuse of minors by the priest. Bishop Gervas Rozario of Rajshahi in a letter to apostolic nuncio stated, “I wonder why and how the superiors of this religious man allowed him to stay alone and to go on doing any such thing embarking on the strength of his money.”
Inquiries by ucanews.com reveal that Christensen arrived in Bangladesh with verbal permission from Church authorities and began without any formal written permission.
Christensen denied all allegations when contacted by ucanews.com and refused to discuss the matter.
Self-Help; Marianist Missionary Home to Raise Money to Help Bangladesh
By Victor Volland St. Louis Post-Dispatch September 21, 1995 In 1957 Bill Christensen, a sophomore at the old Maryhurst High School in Kirkwood, decided to be a missionary. A Marianist missionary to Japan who was visiting the school told of flying over the India subcontinent and lamenting that not a single Marianist was working there.
This week the Rev. William Christensen has returned home to raise money for the self-help projects he started in Bangladesh as a Marianist missionary priest. He's also visiting friends and former students he taught at McBride High School and Chaminade College Preparatory School.
Christensen, 53, is not your popular image of a proselytizing, Bible-toting missionary. Dressed unseasonably in dungarees, sandals and short-sleeve shirt, a blue Bangladeshi gumcha, or scarf, knotted around his neck, he sipped a cup of American coffee and talked about his flock of 250,000 Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus scattered among 200 impoverished rural villages.
Missionaries today, he said, are more likely to be found planting trees, digging latrines and building tin-roof huts than teaching native peoples a strange catechism.
"For me religion has always meant, first, helping the poor and disadvantaged," said Christensen, who was active here in the mid-1960s and mid-1970s in the civil rights and economic boycott movements.
He is the only Society of Mary cleric in Bangladesh and was permitted to work there only as an economic development expert, not as a missionary priest.
He founded the Institute of Integrated Rural Development, in Bangladesh.
In a reforestation program, the group has given more than 400,000 timber trees to villagers to plant, harvest and sell. The group has planted 250, 000 mulberry trees in support of a new silk worm industry. And it has dug and stocked fish ponds, built flood-protection levees and bakeries, and trained villagers to repair irrigation equipment, raise cattle and poultry and make silk, chalk and candy.
"We are establishing successful models to create rural wealth," Christensen said.
Christensen will be honored at a reception today from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Marianists' Missouri Provincialate, 4528 Maryland Avenue. Donations for the order's work in Bangladesh may be sent to The Marianists, P.O. Box 23130, St. Louis, Mo. 63156.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests