Thursday, May 16, 2002

Six more sue Louisville church

Number of recent lawsuits filed against archdiocese reaches 60

The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE — The number of recent lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Louisville reached 60 Wednesday, after six more men alleged that church officials ignored their complaints of sexual abuse.

        The slew of suits — all against the Roman Catholic Bishop of Louisville, the corporate name of the archdiocese — have been filed since April 19.

        In each of the latest suits, the plaintiffs claim they reported the alleged incidents but the diocese did not take appropriate disciplinary action. Some of the allegations date to the 1960s.

        All six of the suits say the plaintiffs were minors when the alleged abused occurred.

        The three Roman Catholic priests accused of being abusers in Wednesday's suits have been named in other recent suits. The Rev. Louis E. Miller, who was accused in three of the suits on Wednesday, has been accused in half of the total suits. Two others say they were molested by the Rev. Daniel C. Clark, and the sixth plaintiff accuses the Rev. Arthur L. Wood. None of the priests is named as a defendant in the suits, which were filed in Jefferson Circuit Court.

        The archdiocese has repeatedly declined comment on the lawsuits, though Archbishop Thomas Kelly spoke publicly last week and pledged the church would “reach out” to the victims.

        In one of the latest suits, James R. Pierce said he made friends with Father Wood in 1975 while Mr. Pierce's father was a patient at Sts. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital in Louisville, where Father Wood was once a chaplain.

        Mr. Pierce, then a 12-year-old, alleged that Father Wood lured him to the priest's apartment across the street from the hospital, and “forcibly sexually molested, abused, battered and assaulted” Mr. Pierce, the suit said. It said Father Wood continued to lure Mr. Pierce to the apartment with money and alcohol for a year.

        Bruce W. Stansbury alleged in his lawsuit Wednesday that Father Miller sexually molested and abused him while he was a patient at Sts. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital in 1964.

        In two other lawsuits filed Wednesday, plaintiffs Robert W. Hack and Mark W. Talley accused Father Miller of sexual abuse — when Mr. Hack was a student at St. Athanasius School in the mid 1960s and when Mr. Talley was an altar boy at Holy Spirit Church in the late 1950s and '60s.

        Suits by Paul R. Barrett and Louis E. Smith claim they were sexually abused as minors by Father Clark in the early 1980s at St. Rita parish in Louisville, where Father Clark was a priest and school administrator. Mr. Smith was a student at the school, and Mr. Barrett was a parishioner at the church.

        Louisville attorney William F. McMurry represents all of the plaintiffs in the suits filed Wednesday.


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