St. Louis Archdiocese removes one priest, another resigns

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Associated Press WriterST. LOUIS (AP) -- A Roman Catholic priest from a parish in north St. Louis County has resigned following new charges of sexual abuse and church officials have placed a second on leave, the city's archdiocese said Wednesday.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis released letters from the two priests written to their congregations announcing the actions along with a letter from Archbishop Justin Rigali, who said the church remains committed "to uphold strict and up-to-date standards to protect children and young people."

The Rev. Leroy A. Valentine is resigning from his post at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Florissant following the archdiocese's receipt of "a new charge of sexual abuse of a minor from many years ago," the church said.

Valentine has been previously accused of sexually molesting three brothers 20 years ago at a different parish. The brothers said the archdiocese, in a private settlement, promised that Valentine would not be placed in a ministry with access to children and went public earlier this month after learning he was at St. Thomas.

Valentine, in his letter to parishioners, maintained his innocence.

"But at this time I have come to the decision that it is in the best interest of our parish family, of the Archdiocese, and for my own personal well-being that I end my service at St. Thomas," Valentine wrote.

The Archdiocese also placed the Rev. Gary P. Wolken on leave Thursday after receiving an allegation he had "inappropriate contact with a minor." The charge is not related to any work at his current parish, Our Lady of the Sorrows in St. Louis, the church said.

"I respect the policy of the archdiocese, and thus must leave the parish while the charge is reviewed," Wolken wrote in his letter. "I am cooperating fully with the Missouri Division of Family Services in their assessment of the matter."

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