AR- Predator priest case starts today

For immediate release: Monday, July 7, 2014

For more info: Barbara Dorris (314 503 0003,

Predator priest case starts today

Defrocked cleric now lives in Little Rock

A clergy child sexual abuse and cover up trial begins today involving a Little Rock man who was a Missouri priest.

He is Joseph D. Ross, who has a long history of abuse and sexual misconduct. In 2003, Ross was arrested in Little Rock for loitering for deviant sex.  

In 1988, Ross pled guilty to sexual assaulting an 11 year old boy. At that time he admitted he had molested one child in the 1970s.

Court records show that Ross lives in Little Rock.

He is not expected to attend the trial. 

“We suspect that dozens of families – in Missouri and in Arkansas- have suffered and are suffering because Catholic officials hid and enabled Ross' crimes,” said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis. She is the Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. 

This is the first such trial in the St. Louis area since 1999. It's also the first in which the archbishop was punished for contempt and secrecy before the trial even begins, and in which a judge ordered Catholic officials to give thousands of pages of long secret church records to a victim.

Still, despite his admission and conviction, St. Louis Catholic officials quietly put him back on the job around unsuspecting parishioners at an inner city church where he sexually assaulted another child.

The trial is only the second civil pedophile priest trial in St. Louis history and the first since 1999. 

“We are grateful to the brave and persistent victim in this case. Her courage will inspire others to get help and expose Catholic officials who commit and conceal heinous crimes against children,” said Dorris. 

Here's how – a credible, independent, research-based website – summarizes Ross' clerical career: “Pled guilty 1988 to sexual assault of 11 yr old boy 12/86. Sentenced to 2 yrs probation and treatment. Admitted then he had been accused of molesting one youth in 1970s & had also been arrested for propositioning a police officer & public indecency. Allowed to return to work. Removed 3/02. Civil suit filed 11/02 alleged abuse of 14 yr old boy in 1977. Laicization announced 8/02. Arrested 9/08 on new charges from 2000. Crim. charges dropped 8/10. Lives in AR. New suit filed 10/11 re abuse of girl.” 

“We beg anyone with knowledge or suspicions of crimes by Ross and cover ups by his church colleagues to help this brave young woman by speaking up now,” said David Clohessy, SNAP's director. “It’s not too late for others who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes to come forward, expose predators, protect kids and start healing. It’s always tempting to keep quiet about child sex crimes – whether known or suspected. However, it’s also always irresponsible. Kids are only safe when adults are brave and caring enough to speak up.”

St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson made national headlines last month when he claimed he couldn't recall details about abuse cases 193 times in a deposition.

(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

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell,, Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell,


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  • Lani Halter
    commented 2014-07-07 13:51:03 -0500
    I only just wish, that each of the six victims who had a “papal audience” with the pope today, could have been armed with not only their own story, but also with the facts of at least one case like this, and were able in fact to repeat this to this current pope and ask what he will do specifically, about this case…today.
    The victim/survivors certainly would have had plenty of “fodder” from current and ongoing cases around the world, to have been able to present at least one other vicitim and pedophile priest, to the pope.
    In my opinion, he must act to have the catholic church send each of these known pedophile clergy to secular officials, today. Otherwise, his words have no credibility.
    Announcing a “new sentence” for convicted pedophile catholic clergy, one that says the vatican will put convicted pedophile priests in jail for 12 years, is meaningless if they do nothing to convict the criminals in the first place. In fact, worse yet, it is completely meaningless if the church continues to do all it can to stop current secular litigation and to delay and/or, prevent secular authorities from access to pertinent catholic church records. This pope should come out against the legal maneuverings of the catholic church using current (American) “statutes of limitatiions”, against victim-survivors.
    I also believe that rather than giving us his opinion of catholic pedophile clergy (and their enablers), he should rather more often quote the following bible passages of Jesus’ own words on this subject: Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42 and Luke 17:2. Personally, I think the crimes of these catholic pedophiles are no less heinous than war crimes that have no statute of limitations and that convictions should carry the sentence of the death penalty; both here, in the United States of America and in the vatican and, in fact; all around this universal earth. I say that, with the confidence of having read and believed the words of Christ, as written in Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42 and Luke 17:2.
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