Citing "new information" that has been made available, the St. Louis Catholic Archdiocese removed Marianist Priest Fr. Robert Osborne from his post at St. Peter Parish in Kirkwood as of May 9.
Archdiocese officials said Osborne can no longer work as a priest in the parish, nor anywhere in the diocese. He cannot live in a parish rectory, nor celebrate Catholic Mass publicly.
In a prepared statement released by the director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection, Deacon Phil Hengen described the loss of priestly faculties for Osborne.
"Upon obtaining information from the Marianist Province that was recently made available to the Archdiocese 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," the statement reads.
Osborne left the Marianist high school in Kirkwood, Vianney, in 2006 when he was sued for allegedly molesting a teenage student that same year. Several other former students have come forward with allegations that they were abused by him as kids.
In 2007, the suit was settled out of court and the Marianists refused to give Osborne an assignment in one of their schools or facilities. But then-Archbishop Raymond Burke let Osborne continue working at the Kirkwood parish, where he'd filled in over the years.
"I think what the Archdiocese has done is the right thing," said Ken Chackes, an attorney with Chackes, Carlson and Spritzer. Chackes was the attorney in the 2006 lawsuit against Osborne. "But I have never been able to figure out why the Archdiocese let him work in a parish without getting information from the Marianists about the allegations and their own investigation.
"I don't know what the obligation is legally for the Archdiocese to release the information they now have," said Chackes. "I do think they have an obligation to the community to come forth with the information and clear up any questions and doubts that have been in people's minds about all of this."
Nothing To Add
Catholic Archdiocese spokesperson Elizabeth Westhoff, assistant director of communications, said there was nothing to add to the one-paragraph release distributed to the news media on Saturday, May 9.
"The statement we released on Saturday is the only comment that we will provide at this time," said Westhoff. "I do not have any more information than what was provided in that release."
Members of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) are calling upon St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch to obtain the "new information" so as to determine whether a criminal investigation of Osborne should be re-opened. SNAP is demanding that the information also be turned over to local police officials in Kirkwood.
In November 2008, Cindy Carr was one of several protesters outside St. Peter Parish in a demonstration calling for Osborne's removal from duties at the church.
"I feel vindicated now," said Carr. "I do think people should have the information about Osborne. What did he do? Why is he being removed? This is just more secrecy. It is not the transparency on issues of abuse that we have been promised by the church.
"I understand the parish people being upset when we stood outside last year with our signs," said Carr of North County. "They need to get informed and more vigilant about the abuse problem. I have a sign that says victims of pedophile priests suffer for much longer than Jesus Christ did on the cross."