Archdiocese turns over names of accused priests

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Archdiocese of St. Louis has turned over names of priests accused of sexually abusing minors over a 20-year period, though the names will not be made public.

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled last week that the archdiocese must release the names of more than 100 church employees accused of abuse. The list is under seal and available only to the judge who granted the order and to attorneys involved in litigation.

The names were turned over but it was unclear how many individuals were on the list.

The disclosure is part of a 2011 lawsuit filed on behalf of a then-19-year-old woman who claimed abuse by since-defrocked Rev. Joseph Ross, starting when she was 5 at St. Cronan’s parish. The lawsuit against Ross and the archdiocese aims to show the archdiocese ignored sex abuse complaints, allowing future abuses.

Ken Chackes, the woman’s attorney, declined comment, citing the protective order.

The archdiocese previously submitted 240 complaints against 115 church employees over a 20-year period that ended in 2003. It did not specify how many of the accused were priests.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Robert Dierker originally ordered that the names be turned over. The archdiocese, citing the privacy of the accused and the accuser, fought the order, prompting the Missouri Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday.

Dierker’s order, in addition to keeping names under seal, prohibits the victims from being contacted directly by the plaintiff’s lawyers. A court-appointed lawyer will make the first contact.

The case is tentatively set to go to trial Feb. 24.

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