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News 4 Investigation into priests accused of child sex abuse leads to new police inquiry

Published: May. 27, 2022 at 7:55 PM CDT
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DITTMER, Mo. (KMOV) -- A recent News 4 Investigation into a Jefferson County center where Catholic priests and clergy accused of sexually abusing children are living under the radar has led to a new police inquiry.

The center is located in Dittmer, Missouri. It’s called the Vianney Renewal Center and is run by the Servants of the Paraclete, a Catholic religious order founded in 1947. The Servants of the Paraclete’s website claims to “provide care for priests and brothers in need.” Nothing mentions sexual abuse.

Read: Priests accused of sexual abuse living at Jefferson County treatment center

While reporting on the center, News 4 Investigates found one former clergy member, Robert Brouillette, who is listed on the national sex offender registry, as living at the Paracletes center. His name does not show up on the Missouri sex offender registry, despite the national sex offender registry listing.

News 4 Investigates brought this to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and learned authorities say Brouillette was registered as a sex offender while he lived in Missouri, but has since moved out of state.

Brouillette is accused in civil lawsuits of abusing dozens of kids while he taught at Catholic schools across the country. Some of those cases led to settlements where the church paid out millions of dollars.

Brouillette was convicted in Illinois of several child pornography charges and was required to register as a sex offender.

According to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Brouillette moved out of the Paracletes center in 2004 and then moved into an apartment in Fenton. The sheriff’s office says during that time Brouillette was registered as a sex offender in Missouri.

According to the sheriff’s office, Brouillette’s name dropped off the Missouri sex offender registry in 2017 when Brouillette moved to Montana.

Brouillette is currently not registered as a sex offender in Montana.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office says it informed authorities in Montana and learned Brouillette filed a petition in court to have his name removed from the sex offender registry in Montana, a request that was granted last year.

Brouillette’s name still appears on the National Sex Offender Registry. Since News 4 started asking questions, that registry has been updated with Brouillette’s Montana address.

News 4 Investigates talked to several people who say they were abused by Catholic clergy as well as advocates who work with abuse survivors. They say this points out their concerns about the Paracletes centers.

“It’s a ticking time bomb,” said David Clohessy, the Missouri Volunteer Director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). “More and more problem priests are being sent to these facilities and less and less do we know anything about them.”

Clohessy says many of the former clergy living at the Paracletes center often aren’t required to register as sex offenders because they were never prosecuted, despite the Catholic Church admitting to finding credible allegations of abuse against them.

“I think the answer is very simple,” Clohessy said. “At an absolute bare minimum, be honest about who they are and why they’re there.”

In Missouri, when a sex offender moves out of state, highway patrol is the agency responsible for notifying the state where they’re moving to. According to authorities, the Missouri State Highway Patrol notified police in Montana that Brouillette was moving there.