MO--Predator priest who was ousted last year is now sued again
For immediate release: Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015
A serial predator priest is being sued for sexually assaulting another child. We commend this brave man for seeking justice and exposing wrongdoers. We hope his courage will prompt others who were hurt as kids by clerics to step forward.
In 2013 - 31 years after child sex abuse allegations against him first emerged - Fr. Leroy A. Valentine was “permanently remove him from active ministry.” Though archdiocesan officials have paid settlements to at least three of his victims, Fr. Valentine has apparently still not been defrocked. And we believe, but are not certain, that no one from the archdiocese has been supervising or monitoring Fr. Valentine for at least the last 12 years.
In 1982, when a North County mother reported that he sexually assaulted her three sons. The St. Louis Archdiocese paid the boys a settlement – believed to be around $20,000 each - and reportedly sent Valentine for treatment and then transferred him to another parish where he kept working. Catholic officials insisted that the boys never speak publicly about the abuse or the settlements
In 2002, Valentine was an associate pastor at St. Thomas the Apostle in Florissant with an adjoining parochial school. He was one of “at least three St. Louis priests who have been accused in civil court of sexual abuse remain active in the archdiocese today, two in contact with children,” according to the New York Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
(The other two were Fr. Bruce Forman who was – and still is – the director a youth choir in Soulard and Fr. Thomas Graham who was chaplain at a south St. Louis County nursing home. Graham was convicted in a criminal trial of molesting another boy but the jury’s verdict was later overturned. )
That same year, 2002, Valentine resigned, claiming he would begin focusing all his efforts on proving his innocence.
The first civil child sex abuse and cover up suit against Valentine was filed in 1995.
Three archbishops – Justin Rigali, Raymond Burke and Robert Carlson – evidently felt Fr. Valentine was too dangerous to work in parishes. But for 11 years, they left Fr. Valentine free to live on his own among unsuspecting families.
The archdiocesan announcement of the decision to permanently bar Fr. Valentine from ministry was made in the The St. Louis Review in 2013, the archdiocesan newspaper. In that announcement, however, Carlson and his staff did not disclose that church settlements were paid to at least three of Fr. Valentine’s victims.
And twice, church officials have printed Fr. Valentine’s denials of the abuse in the archdiocesan newspaper by local Catholic officials. That’s just mean. Archdiocesan officials obviously believe he’s guilty of abuse. Why else, after multiple lawsuits and settlements, would they make an 11 year temporary suspension permanent unless they were convinced he’s a predator?
So repeating Valentine’s obviously discredited claim of innocence just rubs salt into the already very deep wounds of his victims.
In a bizarre 2002 interview with the New York Times, Fr. Valentine claimed he was barred by the legal settlement from discussing the case:
“When told that this was his opportunity to respond to whether there was any truth to the accusations, he looked down and shook his head. The senior pastor, the Rev. Henry Garavaglia, who sat in on the interview, said, ‘Emphatically, I would say no.’"
“Then Father Valentine looked up and said suddenly, ‘At the same time, parents should always be concerned who's working with their children.’"
The Glasgow Village mother whose sons were molested by Valentine told the Associated Press in 2002 that “a police the sergeant in charge of the case asked her to drop the complaint because the scandal would hurt the church.”
We’re very proud of this brave family. These three boys, sexually assaulted at the ages of 10, 11 and 12, immediately told their mom who immediately told the police. Years later, when Catholic officials kept minimizing clergy sex crimes, denying cover ups, and keeping predators on the job, this family spoke publicly, exposed wrongdoing and got Fr. Valentine temporarily ousted. We only hope church employees – then and now – would show such compassion and courage.
Here’s a copy of the St. Louis Review article about Valentine being permanently ousted from ministry:
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has 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)