Missouri priest investigated for child sexual abuse

The Rolla Daily News reports that an Episcopal priest, often called "the cookie monster" by children, is under investigation for sexual abuse of children.

When Father Joseph Carlo of the Christ Episcopal Church in Rolla retired in 1990, he left behind a legacy as a priest who led his congregation to flourish. An internal church investigation recently completed by the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Missouri may leave Carlo with a new legacy.

According to the Rev. Canon Daniel Smith of the Diocese of Missouri, an investigation into reports of alleged sexual abuse of children within the church by Carlo was recently completed.

According to Smith, the church has been in contact with five people who claim they were abused by Carlo between 1975 and 1985.

“We believe that (sexual abuse) has occurred,” Smith said about the abuse allegations and the results of the internal investigation.

The trust Carlo built within the church and community as a whole was reflected in an article that appeared in the Sept. 9, 1990, edition of the Rolla Daily News.

The article profiled Carlo as he prepared to retire.

“Joseph is a genuine, caring person, especially with our children and UMR (Missouri University of Science and Technology) students. He builds trust with youth with his sincerity and earnest listening,” Bill Stoltz said as quoted in the article.

Church member Pat Oster recalls her own children growing up under Carlo’s watch.

She and her husband joined the church seven years after Carlo came to the congregation and fondly recalls her children calling Carlo the “cookie monster.”

Comments (12)

I hate hearing stories like this. In the church, of all places.

The fact that the children called him this name and the parents recalled it "fondly" -- is a warning to all who want to prevent child sexual abuse. Children's language is often coded in this way.

Interestingly, the Episcopal Clerical Directory shows him as canonically resident in Missouri: https://www.ecdplus.org/clergy/?clergyID=90037

The diocesan website has removed him from its list of clergy, where he had been listed as "Retired" until last month: http://www.diocesemo.org/aboutus/clergylist/

The Rolla Daily News website says that he was "stripped of his ordination." Is ECD Plus just out of date?

Thanks for commenting Richard M. -- please sign your name next time. ~ed.

I disagree strongly Ann. You are using 20/20 hindsight to interpret a situation and make conclusions based on facts not in evidence. Cookie Monster is a much beloved character the world over from Sesame Street (Plaza Sesamo here in Mexico). He is only a monster in the sense that he eats cookies, which may have been the trait associated with this priest.

I think Ann is correct. It gives me the creeps to think of an adult man using a character name like "the cookie monster" to draw them to him, but that's the kind of thing pedophiles do to appeal to kids and their gullible parents.

David - have you participated in the church's Safeguarding God's Children training? One of the videos has a perpetrator telling almost exactly this - kid's called him a name that the parents' thought was "cute" -- it turns out that this is the way kids communicate with images they know from their lives as they have no words to describe the abuse.

So because it is in a TEC video, it is automatically true of all situations. And, we should now start a witch hunt of every priest and church worker who has a cute name that local parents recall fondly and think cute.

Bro. David
KONY 2012

If we're playing the Hyperbole Bowl, Dahveed, between "witch hunt every priest" and "condemn any child", I'll go w/ witch-hunt every time...

...but I don't believe in the Hyperbole Bowl, so I'll let THIS particular process play out (w/ prayers for all---but esp. for justice!)

JC Fisher

So, why DID the kids call him The Cookie Monster - does anyone here actually know? That is, if they did call him that - dont believe everything you read (even in The Rolla Daily News), and keep in mind that even mothers can remember things wrong. If it was his idea, that's sort of creepy. If they called him that because they perceived him as a monster, it's horrific. If they called him that because he liked cookies, or looked like Cookie Monster, or something similar, it's nothing. We don't get to choose what kids call us behind our backs, usually. Maybe some of the posturing could be suspended until we know why they called him that, and whether or not it's really important to this horrible scenario.

All I am saying is that parents and those who protect children should be aware of the way children express things that are happening to them at the hands of abusers.

We should be aware of the manner in which very young children express things. Older children and adolescents do not fall into this category and would not give someone for whom they have no respect a cutesy name, but an insulting one*. The newspaper report does not tell us anything regarding the age of the victims when they were abused, or what age group(s) of children in the parish actually called him the Cookie Monster, nor anything that might allude to why they named him Cookie Monster.

So again, Ann, you have thrown out a suggestion with 20/20 hindsight about the failure on the part of the parents in this parish and the nickname given this priest by those parent's children that has no basis in the facts in evidence. I see that as a disservice to both us and them with no hyperbole involved, just a giant overgeneralization.

*A Statesonian priest serving in the Anglophile parish that shares our parish building was horrified to learn that he was referred to as the Grinch by the Statesonian, Canadian and Mexican adolescents of both parishes. He tried to overcome his discomfort with being new in Mexico by being a stickler, by-the-book individual that came across just as someone mean to the youth who interacted with him.

Bro. David
KONY 2012

I guess I don't understand your problem with what I am saying -- being aware seems like a good policy to me. Perhaps if we had been at the same Safe Church training we could have common ground. My last comment on this subject.

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