Priest's life turned upside down by abuse charge judged 'unfounded' [USA]

April 8, 2004

Without warning, his life was turned upside down.Father Alexander Anderson, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Eureka, learned on a spring day in 2002 that he was the subject of an allegation of sexual abuse against a minor.He had been called to the St. Louis archdiocesan offices where he was told that officials had been informed of the allegation and would turn over the matter to the St. Louis circuit attorney for a full investigation.Next came a media frenzy about the accusation. The allegation dated to the 1980s when Father Anderson was chaplain of the now-closed St. Joseph Home for Boys in South St. Louis.Early on, after an investigation by an archdiocesan committee, the archdiocese issued a statement that it believed the allegation was “completely unfounded.”After her office’s own investigation, Jennifer Joyce, circuit attorney for the city of St. Louis, said the case lacked enough evidence for prosecution.In March the civil claim of sexual abuse was dismissed, and Father Anderson dropped a claim of defamation against his accuser.The Archdiocese of St. Louis, stating that the abuse claim had no merit, agreed to provide health assistance to the accuser in the form of direct payments to a health care provider of his choice.Because the allegation was considered unsubstantiated, Father Anderson continued on as pastor of the Eureka parish throughout the ordeal. After the dismissal of the suits, a statement issued by the archdiocese noted that Father Anderson has the full support of Archbishop Raymond L. Burke.How did Father Anderson handle the accusation and the attention it brought? …

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