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Father Gary Wolken charged in sexual abuse case

From June 2002

Father Gary P. Wolken, former associate pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in South St. Louis, was charged June 4 with molesting a 10-year-old boy who was a family friend.
Father Wolken left his parish assignment in March following the initial allegation. At the time, he wrote parishioners and noted that the allegation was not related to his work at the parish. He said that leaving the parish was in accord with the Archdiocesan Policy for Sexual Abuse of Minors by Clergy.
The archdiocese contacted the Missouri Division of Family Services about the allegation.
Father Wolken was charged with two felony counts of statutory sodomy and six felony counts of child molestation. The abuse is alleged to have begun in 1997 when the child was in kindergarten. Prosecutors said Father Wolken admitted to the crimes, which occurred at a private residence in St. Louis County.
Archbishop Justin Rigali, in a statement released June 4, noted that he was "deeply saddened by the initial report in March of the investigation. "From the beginning I have encouraged him to cooperate fully with authorities. Now I am again saddened that today extremely serious charges have been brought against Father Wolken in this matter."
Archbishop Rigali offered heartfelt apologies to the victim and family.
"Yet again I reiterate that the protection of our children must be our highest priority," he said. "The Archdiocese of St. Louis is uncompromising in this commitment. We will continue to do everything possible so that the grave evil of sexual abuse of minors is rooted out of society once and for all."
Father Wolken, 36, was ordained in 1993. He served for four years as associate pastor of Ascension Parish in Chesterfield and two years at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in University City before being named to Our Lady of Sorrows in 1999.

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