The Bishop of Missouri has deposed the Rev. Joseph Carlo for having sexually abused boys while serving as rector of Christ Church in Rolla.
In a statement released on 13 March 2012, Bishop Wayne Smith stated that as bishop he had met with some of the victims and the congregation to offer support and guidance. “I have primary pastoral responsibilities to the survivors of the abuse perpetrated by a now deposed priest of this Diocese, he said.
“I also have pastoral responsibilities to the people of Christ Episcopal Church in Rolla. My responsibility begins with hearing from victims and taking them seriously. It continues with holding abusers accountable and meting out consequences. A crucial point in healing comes with telling the truth about the matter, insofar as it can be known, in the midst of the affected community. This is what Diocesan leaders and I did among and for the people of Christ Church” on 4 March 2012.
In August 2011 the diocese received reports of alleged sexual abuse of “boys and adolescents” by Mr. Carlo, who served as rector of the parish in South Central Missouri town of Rolla from 1960 to 1991.
Following the guidelines of the Title IV disciplinary canons, Bishop Smith appointed Canon to the Ordinary, the Rev. Dan Smith, as diocesan intake officer to investigate the charges. Canon Smith notified the State of Missouri of the allegations, but was informed that should the charges be shown to be true, Mr. Carlo could not be brought to trial as the “criminal statute of limitations had expired.” Canon Smith’s investigation subsequently revealed the veracity of the charges and that the abuse took place between 1975 and 1985.
In November, Bishop Smith met with Mr. Carlo to acquaint him with the allegations. Mr. Carlo confessed to “all the essential points of the charges” and submitted himself to the church’s discipline agreeing under the terms of Title IV, Canon 9 to be deposed from the ordained ministery.
On 4 March 4, 2012 Bishop Smith and Canon Smith met with the leaders of Christ Church, Rolla, counselors from Care and Counseling, some of the victims and members of the congregation to discuss the case.
Asked why the investigation took so long, Canon Smith stated: “As Intake Officer I have three responses to that question. Under Title IV of the Canons there is no statute of limitations for this type of offense.”
“Secondly and most importantly, we owe the victims of this type of abuse the truth and our support. This is not canonical it is moral. Victims of this type of abuse often spend the rest of their lives seeking healing. Bringing into the open that which was a secret aids that healing,” he said, according to the diocesan statement.
“Third, Congregations whether they realize it or not suffer wounds as the result of secrets and rumors. The only way for the healing of congregations to occur is to take away the power of secrets and innuendo by being as open and transparent as possible.”
He acknowledged the strength of feeling the incident had caused, but wanted those who had been abused, and the congregation to know that the “Diocese of Missouri and your Bishop stand ready to help in any way possible with the healing process that now begins.”
The diocese stated that it had also offered the victims “of this sexual abuse professional counseling by the counselor of their choice. The diocese will cover the costs of any such counseling, including offering to the victims the opportunity to meet with Joseph Carlo if that will aid in their healing process.”
The Diocese of Missouri “deeply regrets that this investigation took place long after the events of sexual abuse transpired.”