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In this post-Penn State era, things are moving fast in the wake of a local allegation of sex abuse against a former teacher and coach at De Smet Jesuit High School in Creve Coeur.

The allegation has grown to the point that 14 men have contacted Creve Coeur police in connection to an allegation that a former lay teacher and assistant basketball coach at De Smet sexually abused a student years ago.

Although it appears all 14 have named the same man, who worked at De Smet from 1970 to 1979, Creve Coeur Sgt. Jon Romas did not confirm that assumption.

Instead, he would only say 13 more men called police after officials at De Smet made public the man's name in a letter after a former student came forward with the initial allegation. The school asked that others who might have been sexually abused by the man or who could assist in the investigation call Creve Coeur police.

All 14 have said they were victimized, Romas said. Last week, Romas had said there were 15 men. On Monday, he said one of the calls was "informational" only.

Three of the men who called Creve Coeur police have said they live or once lived in St. Charles County.

The Francis Howell School District has a notice on its website regarding the investigation by Creve Coeur police; it does not name the former teacher/coach.

The former teacher and coach has not been arrested, charged or sued.

He left De Smet and worked at Francis Howell High School as a biology teacher and the head boys basketball coach from 1979 until his retirement in August 2000.

The Journal has spoken to a man who says he is the first victim to contact De Smet and police. He has provided the Journal with documentation to back up his claim.

He says he came forward the day after Thanksgiving because of events at Penn State University, where Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at Penn State, faces charges of sexually abusing 10 boys.

The victim said he reported the abuse to the Rev. Wally Sidney, president of De Smet, four years ago because his own son was entering high school, which made him recall his own encounter with the coach. He said he was told Sidney met with the former teacher and coach at the time.

The former student told the Journal he did not go to police four years ago because he felt confident the man no longer was harming children.

But he has since followed events at Penn State and concluded, "I had not done my job as a victim."

He said he has no interest in suing the man and up until last month his wife did not know he had been sexually abused.

The initial allegation was that the teacher sexually abused the De Smet student at the suspect's Creve Coeur residence.

Heather DeHart, spokeswoman for De Smet, said the school named the suspect publicly because there might be other alleged victims. When the school released its statements, she said, school officials were unaware the statute of limitations had expired.

Regardless of whether the suspect can be prosecuted, she said, victims of sexual abuse need help and counseling.

Romas said Friday that in the 1970s a victim had to report the crime within three years of when it occurred, regardless of how old the victim was at the time.

That means allegations of sexual abuse that occurred in the 1970s cannot be prosecuted.

But the law changed four times since the 1990s. Each time the time frame was expanded. This year the law was changed so a victim has 30 years from the time he or she turns 18 to report the crime.

The former teacher is now about 66. Since his retirement he has remained in the public eye in St. Charles County because of his work to protect streams and creeks and, in general, the environment.

The man also ran youth basketball camps and worked with not only high school-age boys but younger boys, a common practice for coaches. He also went on camping trips with players.

Lt. Craig McGuire of the St. Charles County Sheriff's Department said Friday his department has briefly talked to one of three men who claimed they were abused in St. Charles County. The man now lives out of state. Investigators hope to interview him when he is in the St. Louis area between Christmas and New Year's.

A St. Charles County case would be significant because it would be more recent and might lead to charges against the man.

On Wednesday, I knocked on the front door of the Dardenne Prairie home of the man. A woman who answered told me he would not talk to me and she declined to take my business card. I sent an email to his business and he did not respond.

My editors and I decided not to name him in part because he hasn't been arrested, charged or sued; in part because, to my knowledge, no other news organization has named him; and in part because events are moving quickly and details are murky.


POKIN AROUND Steve Pokin is a columnist for the Suburban Journals. He can be reached at spokin@yourjournal.com or by phone at 314-744-5704. His column is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PokinAround.

Editor's note: This column has been modified to reflect why an earlier web version stated that 15 men had contacted police.