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Suit filed against Archdiocese of St. Louis alleges sexual abuse by deceased priest

Suit filed against Archdiocese of St. Louis alleges sexual abuse by deceased priest

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ST. LOUIS • A Kansas City man filed suit Tuesday against the Archdiocese of St. Louis claiming he was the victim of repeated sexual abuse by a priest who has since died.

In his suit, Tom Viviano alleges that the Rev. Charles DeGuire forced him to perform oral sex on him “on numerous occasions” at St. Aloysius Gonzaga and on a boat that the suit said DeGuire either owned or used.

The alleged abuse took place starting in 1967, when Viviano was a 10-year-old altar boy in fifth grade, and continued until he was in eighth grade. DeGuire died in 1982. The parish closed in 2005.

The lawsuit also alleges that a visiting priest was aware of the abuse and another priest participated, Viviano’s attorney Rebecca Randles said.

According to BishopAccountability.org — a website that has a database of Roman Catholic priests, nuns, brothers, deacons and seminarians who have been publicly accused of sexual abuse against children or possession child pornography — DeGuire is the 50th St. Louis priest accused of misconduct.

The lawsuit claims intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other things.

Viviano said he did not come forward earlier because he repressed the memory until several years ago. It took a suicide attempt before he started “putting the pieces together,” he said.

Viviano was emotional Tuesday afternoon when he, his wife, his brother and members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests gathered outside of the Cathedral Basilica shortly after the lawsuit was filed. The survivors network supports victims of sexual abuse at the hands of members of the clergy.

“My brother didn’t understand why now with this case — why, after all of these years,” Viviano said Tuesday. “I want to do this for children and anyone who has dealt with this so that they know someone is in their corner.”

Spokesman Gabe Jones said the Archdiocese doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

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Ashley Jost is the higher education reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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