February 08, 2005

Catholic church says priest may have abused at least a dozen boys

Belleville News Democrat

Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Roman Catholic Church acknowledged Tuesday that a former priest may have sexually abused at least a dozen boys over a couple decades in several mid-Missouri parishes.

The Jefferson City Diocese said the Rev. John Degnan had been accused in 2001 - about the time he retired from parish ministry - of sexually abusing a boy in the 1960s.

"Additional allegations surfaced in 2002," the diocese said in a statement issued Tuesday in response to media questions. "The investigation of this case by the diocese eventually suggested the probability of more victims of (father) Degnan in the same locations."

Although church officials have heard of about 12 alleged victims, "our sense has been there are others out there," said Sister Ethel Marie Biri, the diocese chancellor.

Degnan, who turns 80 next week, could not immediately be reached for comment. Biri said that in 2002 Degnan was placed in a supervised residential center run by the St. Louis Archdiocese for priests who can no longer be assigned to parishes for fear they could harm others.

Posted by kshaw at February 8, 2005 08:32 PM