4 Nov 2010

St. Louis priest arrested in FBI sting

STLToday.com August 8, 2009

Carlson confronts first crisis with priest's arrest in sting

By Tim Townsend

Not yet two months on the job, St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson, received a call at 9 a.m. on July 30 from his priest personnel director. Monsignor Richard Hanneke had horrific news.

The Rev. James Patrick Grady, pastor of St. Raphael the Archangel Church in south St. Louis, had been arrested in an FBI sting. Grady, 57, had shown up Wednesday at a house used as an FBI trap after arranging to pay for a sex act with a 16-year-old girl, according to federal court documents. The sting also nabbed two other men — a bank employee and a landscaping company employee. Investigators searched Grady's car and computer. His trial is scheduled for Oct. 5.

The question — given Carlson's experience dealing with Catholic priests accused of sexually abusing minors — was how well did he and his staff handle his first crisis?

In the 1980s, Carlson was among the first wave of bishops to confront such abuse. One of his earliest cases: Minnesota priest Thomas Adamson, who would emerge as one of the country's most notorious pedophile clerics.

By the time the Catholic clergy abuse scandal erupted in 2002, Carlson was one of the more experienced bishops in the country tackling the problem.

"If there's any bishop who ought of be getting every bit of this right, especially cooperating with law enforcement, it should be Carlson," said David Clohessy, director of the Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests.

A few hours after Carlson found out about the Grady arrest, the Post-Dispatch broke the story on its website, STLtoday.com. According to an FBI affidavit, Grady had answered an ad on Craigslist and exchanged e-mails with an undercover investigator.

Grady agreed to pay $80 for 30 minutes with the girl, and received directions to a secret location in St. Louis County, documents showed. When he showed up, he was arrested.

Carlson called a news conference for 4 p.m. that afternoon and told reporters that if the charges against Grady are found to be true, the priest "will never work again in the archdiocese." He said he'd suspended Grady and would visit St. Raphael's.

While there was nothing in Grady's file to indicate this kind of behavior, Carlson said, the archdiocese would contact all the parishes where Grady had served, in part to solicit information from parishioners about their experiences with the priest.

The archbishop questioned aloud why Grady would need his own computer, and assured the press that most priests are good men and that Grady's behavior was "a black eye" for the priesthood. He said he'd never met Grady, and that as long as the charges remained allegations, the archdiocese would pay the priest's legal fees.

On Saturday, Carlson celebrated Mass at St. Raphael's and told 350 parishioners that he had suspended their pastor and would be assigning them a new one soon. Carlson appointed Msgr. Henry Brier, secretary to former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, as St. Raphael's new pastor.

"I know some of you are hurting," Carlson said in his homily. "I come to apologize on behalf of the church and hopefully help you as a parish community to begin the process of healing."

Mary Faith Green told the Post-Dispatch that she'd been impressed with what Carlson had to say. "That was great," she said.

Frank Flinn, professor of religion at Washington University, said he believes Carlson "sincerely wants to reach out to the people."

Clohessy said Carlson "was right to go to the parish." But he said the archbishop can go further. "He should go to every parish where Grady had been."

The archdiocese has guidelines — based on national norms put in place by U.S. bishops after the scandals of 2002 — that go into effect when allegations of sexual abuse against a minor by a priest take place. One policy demands a church investigation by a review board charged with interviewing the alleged victim and the accused priest.

Carlson was unavailable to answer questions about the church investigation on Friday. But Deacon Phil Hengen, the director of the archdiocese's Office of Child and Youth Protection and member of the review board, said that because this case involved a "virtual victim," it's beyond the purview of the review board, and handled directly by Carlson and Hanneke.

"When we put those policies and procedures in place, we had in mind real flesh-and-blood victims who were under the age of 18 at the time of the offense," he said.

The archdiocese's vicar general, Monsignor Vernon Gardin, said that because the "victim" in the Grady case was the government, the usual rules dictating how the archdiocese investigates sexual abuse allegations don't apply.

"When you're dealing with the FBI, you just don't do things on your own," he said.

Whether or not the archdiocese's guidelines pertain in the cases of "virtual victims," church critics say the archdiocese should do everything possible to find out if Grady has acted on his impulses before.

Church officials agree, to a point. Hengen said that typically "if one person has been victimized, you have to assume there are others ... how that would play out in a situation like this, we don't know yet."

Indeed, the Craigslist ad Grady answered included coded language — words like "Vicky" and "hussyfan" — that would be recognizable to those interested in sex with minors.

At the end of his news conference last week, Carlson echoed a thought he'd had in 1980 as he investigated the Adamson case. "Am I handling it the way it should be handled?" he asked himself as he was jogging one day.

At his July 30 news conference, he told St. Louis reporters that as he began dealing with the Grady case he'd asked himself, "What more should we be doing that we haven't done?"

Robert Patrick of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

This article was found at:



St. Louis Archdiocese Wins Effort to Dismiss Clergy Sex Lawsuit

Review of sex abuse guidelines at US bishops conference will not close loopholes that continue to endanger children


  1. St Louis Archbishop Carlson said he is not sure he knew sexual abuse was a crime

    Lilly Fowler / St. Louis Post-Dispatch | June 9, 2014 Religion News Service

    (RNS) Archbishop Robert J. Carlson claimed to be uncertain that he knew sexual abuse of a child by a priest constituted a crime when he was auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, according to a deposition released Monday (June 9).

    During the deposition taken last month, attorney Jeff Anderson asked Carlson whether he knew it was a crime for an adult to engage in sex with a child.

    “I’m not sure whether I knew it was a crime or not,” Carlson replied. “I understand today it’s a crime.”

    Anderson went on to ask Carlson whether he knew in 1984, when he was an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, that it was a crime for a priest to engage in sex with a child.

    “I’m not sure if I did or didn’t,” Carlson said.

    Yet according to documents released Monday (June 9) by the law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates in St. Paul, Carlson showed clear knowledge that sexual abuse was a crime when discussing incidents with church officials during his time in Minnesota.

    In a 1984 document, for example, Carlson wrote to the then-archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis — John R. Roach — about one victim of sexual abuse and mentioned that the statute of limitations for filing a claim would not expire for more than two years. He also wrote that the parents of the victim were considering reporting the incident to the police.

    In a statement, Gabe Jones, spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, said “while not being able to recall his knowledge of the law exactly as it was many decades ago, the archbishop did make clear that he knows child sex abuse is a crime today.”

    “The question does not address the archbishop’s moral stance on the sin of pedophilia, which has been that it is a most egregious offense,” Jones said.

    Anderson took Carlson’s deposition as part of a sexual abuse lawsuit in Minnesota involving the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona, Minn.

    The plaintiff in the case, only identified as “Doe 1,” claims to have been abused in the 1970s by the Rev. Thomas Adamson at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in St. Paul Park, Minn.

    Later in the deposition, when asked about an incident of alleged sexual abuse of a minor by another priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Rev. Jerome Kern, Anderson asks Carlson:

    “But you knew a priest touching the genitals of a kid to be a crime, did you not?” Anderson was referring to what a 1987 church memo said about the alleged incident of abuse.

    “Yes,” Carlson replied.

    continued below

  2. Carlson went on to admit that he never personally reported any incidents of sexual abuse to the police, though he said he encouraged parents to do so at least once.

    Carlson also said that even in 1996 he did not know that pedophilia was a disorder that couldn’t be cured.

    “I did not know that, but as a pastor, I was becoming increasingly concerned,” Carlson said.

    With regard to the history of sexual abuse in the church, Carlson seemed to suggest he did the best he could at the time.

    “I think in everything we do, once we’ve experienced it, we reflect on our actions and we ask what we can do better,” Carlson said. “I think we did a pretty good job.”

    “Obviously, based on some 25 years later, I would do it differently.”

    Anderson then asked, “Don’t you think you should have done it differently then?”

    “I did what I did,” Carlson replied.

    “I think counselors made mistakes. I think people in general made mistakes. I think the archdiocese made mistakes,” Carlson said. “I think if you go back in history, I think the whole culture did not know what they were dealing with. I think therapists didn’t. I don’t think we fully understood.”

    Over and over, throughout the deposition, Carlson said he could not remember answers to questions posed by Anderson — for a total of 193 times.

    Anderson asked Carlson if there was any physical condition or illness that was impeding his memory.

    “I can’t make either a psychological or a physical diagnosis, other than to say I have had seven cancer surgeries. Each time I received some kind of chemical to put me out for that. If that’s impeded my memory or not, I have no idea,” Carlson answered. “My concern is that what I say to you would be accurate.”

    Anderson has also taken Carlson’s deposition for a priest sexual abuse case scheduled for trial July 7 in St. Louis. That deposition is under seal.

    According to Anderson, Carlson was involved in handling sexual abuse cases in Minnesota for 15 years.