ST. LOUIS (KSDK) – A settlement has been reached in the civil lawsuit trial involving a former Catholic priest accused of sexual misconduct and the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
Jury selection for the trial was scheduled to begin Monday in a case accusing former priest Joseph Ross of molesting a girl when she attended St. Cronan Church between 1997 and 2001.
The woman who is now 22 has only been identified as Jane Doe.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis hosted a 9 a.m. press conference Monday regarding the settlement and released a full statement that can be viewed on the organization's website.
Ken Chackes of the Chackes Carlson law firm released the following statement:
We stand by our client and her allegations that she was raped by Fr. Ross in 1999-2002 while Jane Doe 92 was a parishioner at St. Cronan's Church. We also stand by her allegations that she was raped by another person. Some of Jane Doe 92's therapists support her account.
Victimization is a terrible thing and what this young lady has experienced should never happen to any person.
We believe a jury would have ultimately found that Fr. Ross raped Jane Doe 92. We must, however, take action to preserve her health and well-being. We agree with the Archdiocese that there is no healing for Jane Doe 92 that would come from a three week trial of these difficult and personal facts.
We believe in and applaud the courage of Jane Doe 92 and her decision to avoid the rigors of trial and begin the healing process. Her efforts through this case have already brought awareness in this community about the sordid history of Ross and how it was handled by the Archdiocese.
Through that we hope this community is safer.
Neither side has disclosed terms of the deal.
Barbara Dorris, outreach director for SNAP, released the following statement regarding the settlement:
For starters, please remember that just because a Catholic public relations person says something, that doesn't make it right. Nor does it make it normal. Katie Plesha should be ashamed of herself for savaging this brave young victim today. Years from now, we suspect that she will be. And we hope she will then try her best to make amends to a courageous, suffering young woman.
In a further effort to smear this brave young woman, and deter other victims from stepping forward, we believe that Catholic officials are circulating records that have been marked "confidential" by a judge. We have been sent one of those records. But we won't comment on those records.
We believe Archbishop Carlson settled today to keep his complicity and the complicity of his colleagues hidden. And we believe that this brave young woman settled for the sake of her healing.
We believe that our job, as a support group, is to make sure we don't in any way ever compound a victim's pain. The last thing we would ever want to do is to add to this courageous young woman's suffering in any way. That's why we will be brief in what we say today.
First, the archdiocese claims settlement details are being withheld at the request of the victim. Frankly, we find this hard to believe. The archdiocese should answer a simple question: Which side asked that the settlement amount be kept private. We believe it was the archdiocese.
Second, there are rumors that this brave young woman once recanted. Like most victims, she had some obviously justifiable concerns about how mean Catholic officials might be during the criminal and civil processes. But she never recanted.
Third, these were dozens of crimes, sometimes brutal, inflicted on a girl starting when she was young. So if on one detail her memories don't match her father's memories, that is not surprising nor significant.
Fourth, Catholic officials have tons of resources and tons of experience in clergy sex abuse and cover up cases. It's neither surprising nor significant that they claim they've found an expert or two who would allegedly disparage this brave victim.
Fifth, no church official today mentioned – much less explained or apologized – for warning no one when they put a convicted criminal in an unsuspecting parish. We ask Archbishop Carlson to go to St. Cronan's this weekend and do this, while begging others who saw, suspected, or suffered to come forward.
Archbishop Carlson is unclear on when he learned it's a crime to molest a child. But this young woman is and always has been very clear – Fr. Joseph Ross molested her. Fr. Ross poses a danger to kids. And she should try to protect others from Fr. Ross. She has done that. We applaud her bravery.
She did everything in her power to protect other kids—a claim that very few if any church official can match.
Here's what's really going on today: Carlson faces two other very damaging civil cases that are well within the statute of limitations. They involve Fr. Bryan Kuchar, a convicted molester, and Fr. Joseph Jiang, a close friend of Carlson. Carlson wants to scare victims, witnesses and whistleblowers in these cases, and others, into stopping their quest to expose church wrongdoers. We hope he fails.