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BELLEVILLE — A clergyman with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Belleville was charged Friday with sexually assaulting an adult woman on March 1.

Robert J. Lanter

Lanter

Deacon Robert J. Lanter, 68, of Swansea, was charged with felony criminal sexual assault, and is accused of assaulting a 29-year-old woman who was unable to give consent.

Prosecutors did not specify the reason the woman was unable to give consent.

Lanter was ordained in 1997 as a deacon, a member of clergy who can perform many of the same duties as a priest.

Lanter resigned from all his positions with the diocese Thursday, including roles directing the Office of the Permanent Diaconate and providing ministry at St. Teresa of the Child Jesus Parish and St. Luke Parish in Belleville.

"I know that this information will come to you as a surprise and be a source of sadness and concern," Bishop Edward Braxton said in a letter Thursday to the diocese community. "At this juncture, the most important thing for us to do is to pray for Deacon Lanter, his family, and all those who may have been harmed by this development."

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests released a statement Friday criticizing the diocese and encouraging any other possible victims to come forward to law enforcement.

Lanter's bond was set at $100,000. He has already been released after posting bond.

The case was investigated by the Swansea Police Department and Lanter was charged by the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s office.

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