The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Wednesday, December 1, 2010
SNAP comments on new St. Louis bishop & retiring St. Louis bishop
Statement by Barbara Dorris, outreach Director 314 862 7688 [email protected]
It’s tempting to assume that a newer bishop will handle clergy sex cases better than the older bishop did. But that’s not always true. We urge St. Louis Catholics to be vigilant, not complacent, about the safety of kids within the church, no matter who holds the top spots in the archdiocesan hierarchy.
More than 50 St. Louis priests are proven, admitted or credibly accused child sex offenders. In none of these cases, civil or criminal, have we seen any evidence that Rice ever did anything to call police, notify parishioners, warn parents or protect kids in any way. In none of these cases, as best we can tell, did Rice ever voice any dissent with or objection to a single callous, reckless or deceptive move by his supervisors in the archdiocese.
In one case, Rice testified as a character witness at a criminal trial for Fr. Thomas Graham. Graham was convicted of molesting a boy. (Later, that conviction was overturned on a technicality - the statute of limitations.) Rice stayed silent when then-Archbishop Raymond Burke spent $500,000 of church funds to keep a convicted child predator free while appeals were filed on behalf of Graham.
So we're not optimistic that Rice is or will become the kind of compassionate church official that children need and Catholics deserve.
On the other hand, having headed a seminary, he hopefully understands
To Hermann’s credit, during his brief tenure as head of the archdiocese, Hermann ousted a controversial accused priest, Fr. Robert Osborne, from a Kirkwood parish, after Osborne had already left a Catholic school because he allegedly molested a boy.
But also during that period, a once-suspended and accused predator priest, Fr. Michael Freymuth, was found back in a parish. He too was ousted by Hermann but only after Freymuth’s presence in the north side church was made public by our group.
(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 22 years and have more than 10,000 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)
5.10.2009 5:15 pm
St. Louis Archdiocese removes former Vianney president’s priestly authority
By Tim Townsend - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
In a statement it attributed to Deacon Phil Hengen, Director of its Office of Child and Youth Protection, the St. Louis Archdiocese said Saturday that its interim leader, Bishop Robert Hermann, had taken away the priestly faculties of the Rev. Robert Osborne, former president of Vianney High School in Kirkwood.
The removal of Osborne’s “faculties” - a term meaning the authority to perform as a cleric - means the Marianist priest can no longer publicly celebrate Mass.
Hermann is the interim leader of the St. Louis Archdiocese until newly named Archbishop-elect Robert Carlson’s installation next month.
In February 2006, Osborne temporarily stepped down as president of Vianney after a lawsuit accused him of having “sexually, physically and emotionally abused” a student. Another accusation followed, and in August 2006 Vianney removed Osborne permanently for what were called “unresolved legal matters.”
Osborne has consistently denied all the accusations against him, and in October 2006, a criminal investigation of the two allegations by the St. Louis County prosecutors office ended with no criminal charges.
The following June, the Marianist Province of the United States said its insurance company “forced” it to settle a civil case against Osborne for an undisclosed sum. In August 2007, an activist group called the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests complained that the St. Louis archdiocese was allowing Osborne to celebrate Mass at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Kirkwood.
At the time, Monsignor Richard Stika, now the bishop of Knoxville, said Osborne had been cleared by civil and church investigations of any wrongdoing. “The presumption is that he is innocent,” Stika said then.
As recently as last November representatives of the St. Louis Archdiocese said an internal investigation by the Marianists, “indicated there is no credible or substantiated allegation of abuse against Father Osborne.”
As of Sunday afternoon, St. Peter’s website still included a photo of Osborne and designated him as a “visiting priest.”
On Saturday the archdiocese offered the following statement:
Upon obtaining information from the Marianist Province that was recently made available to the Archdiocese of St. Louis regarding a previous investigation involving Rev. Robert Osborne, a priest in The Society of Mary (Marianists), Archdiocesan Administrator Bishop Robert J. Hermann has removed Rev. Osborne’s priest faculties. As a result, Rev. Osborne may no longer live in residence within any Archdiocesan parish rectory and may not celebrate Mass publicly.
Osborne, now in his mid-70s, took his first vows in 1955 and was ordained in 1966. He both taught and served in religious or administrative roles at Vianney and Chaminade College Preparatory School in Creve Coeur and first served as acting president at Vianney in 2002. He was a pastor of Our Lady of the Pillar from 1981 to 1986 and served in the Marianist administration from 1986 to 1995.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests