New Suit Alleges Abuse by Priest

By Robert Patrick
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
July 7, 2006

The most-sued former priest in St. Louis was sued again Thursday by a man who says he was abused 30 years ago as an altar boy and student at St. Ferdinand Church in Florissant.

The 20th lawsuit against Michael McGrath alleges that he fondled the boy, identified only as "John Doe GJ," at least once on an outing sometime between 1976 and 1978. At the time, McGrath was an associate pastor and teacher, and the boy was 10 or 11 years old, the suit says.

The man, now around 40 years old and living in Missouri, did not remember what happened until sometime in the past year, said lawyer Ken Chackes.

In a prepared statement, the man said that he felt as if his life had "flat-lined," as if he had been "held back."

The suit says that the St. Louis Archdiocese knew or should have known that McGrath had a "dangerous propensity to abuse children" and that the church should have better supervised McGrath.

McGrath was ordained in 1975, removed from public ministry in 1997 and laicized in 2005. He served in parishes and schools in St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County, the archdiocese said.

McGrath's lawyer, J. Martin Hadican, said Thursday morning that he could not comment on the lawsuit's allegations.

Archdiocese spokesman Tony Huenneke said that the archdiocese had settled or mediated one complaint and 15 lawsuits against McGrath for a total of $793,600.

Huenneke said the archdiocese would not have settled the cases if officials did not believe the accusations to be credible.

The lawsuit represents the earliest accusation against McGrath contained in a lawsuit and the only one from his tenure at St. Ferdinand, according to the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

SNAP National Director David Clohessy called on the archdiocese to release McGrath's personnel records to law enforcement agencies so that McGrath could be criminally charged. 314-621-5154


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