A former student at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Belleville filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging he was sexually abused in 1984 by now-retired Rev. Kenneth Roberts, author of the autobiography “From Playboy to Priest.”
The 32-year-old man, who filed the case anonymously as “John Doe A,” claimed in the lawsuit that Roberts, 73, sexually abused him in the rectory of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. The man, then 13, said he was interested in joining the priesthood and sought Roberts’ counsel.
“Imagine my horror when he took my admiration and used it to manipulate me,” the anonymous man said in a statement provided by his attorney. “By preying on my trust and innocence, Fr. Ken Roberts changed my life forever that day when he sexually molested me.”
The lawsuit, filed in St. Clair County court, asks for more than $50,000 in monetary and punitive damages. Too much time has passed for criminal charges to be filed, but because the man didn’t fully realize the extent of the psychological damage caused by the abuse until recently, a civil case is still possible.
At the time, Roberts was spending a week at St. Mary’s, 1722 W. Main St., celebrating daily Mass and speaking on various religious topics. It was after Roberts’ lecture on sex education that the alleged victim approached Roberts about his desire to join the priesthood.