Thursday, June 27, 2002

Priest indicted on sex charges

42 counts filed against retiree

By Lori Burling
The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE — A retired Roman Catholic priest was indicted Wednesday on 42 counts of sexual misconduct after dozens of victims came forward saying they were abused as children.

    The Rev. Louis E. Miller's assignments throughout his career with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville, according to archdiocese records. Father Miller is accused of sexual abuse in nearly 60 of the 146 lawsuits pending against the archdiocese.
    • 1956-1961; associate pastor at Holy Spirit Church and School, Louisville; 25 lawsuits from this time period.
    • 1961-1963; associate pastor at St. Athanasius Church and School, Louisville; six suits.
    • 1963-1972; chaplain at Sts. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital (now Caritas Peace Center), Louisville; three suits.
    • 1972-1975; associate pastor at St. Aloysius, Louisville; 13 suits.
    • 1976; associate pastor at St. Ann, Howardstown.
    • 1976-1978; associate pastor at St. Elizabeth Church and School, Louisville; eight suits.
    • 1978-1990; pastor at St. Elizabeth Church and School, Louisville.
    • 1990-2002; chaplain at Sacred Heart Home, Louisville.
    In 1991 Father Miller had a brief stint as administrator for temporalities at Holy Name Church. His administrative duties included finances.
        A Jefferson County grand jury handed down the indictments against the Rev. Louis E. Miller, 71, who served in several churches and schools in the Louisville Archdiocese. The indictments followed an investigation by the commonwealth's attorney's office and the Louisville Police Department's Crimes Against Children Unit.

        Father Miller, who retired in March, is accused of abuse in many of the lawsuits pending against the Archdiocese of Louisville. The plaintiffs allege the church was aware of Father Miller's conduct but did not take appropriate disciplinary action.

        The indictments charge him with six counts of sex abuse and 36 counts of indecent and immoral practices. Both charges are felonies.

        “He has not admitted that he has done anything wrong,” Bernard Queenan of Louisville said after Wednesday's indictment. “Now the court will show he did do something wrong and nobody else will be hurt.”

        Mr. Queenan is one of the people investigators interviewed, which led to Wednesday's indictment. Mr. Queenan claims he was sexually abused by the priest when he was a child at Holy Spirit Church and School in Louisville in 1960 and 1961.

        Father Miller, who has worked at seven different parishes since 1956, is accused of abuse in 59 of 146 lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Louisville. Thirteen of the 146 suits were filed Wednesday afternoon. Only 15 alleged victims, with incidents occurring between 1959 and 1982, were included in Wednesday's indictment.

        Banned from public ministry and stripped of his white collar, Father Miller has been living in a retirement home for priests in Louisville.

        The indictments followed a nine-month investigation by the commonwealth's attorney's office and the Louisville Police Department's Crimes Against Children Unit, said Commonwealth's Attorney David Stengel.

        A warrant was issued for the arrest of Father Miller, and bond set at $100,000 cash.

        “This is like all other cases. We're not prosecuting a priest. We're prosecuting a pedophile who happens to be a priest,” Mr. Stengel said.

        An arraignment has not been set for Father Miller. He faces one to 10 years for each count of indecent and immoral practice and one to five years for each count of sexual abuse.

        Mr. Stengel said his office would “push for a prison term.”

Click here for all Enquirer reports on accusations or actions against local priests.
        “He needs to be in jail,” said Louisville native Tim Baker, who has accused Father Miller of abuse. “It's the only way children are going to be protected from him.”

        Father Miller's attorney, David Lambertus of Louisville, told Mr. Stengel's office the priest was out of town Wednesday. Mr. Lambertus said neither he nor Father Miller would comment.

        Archdiocese of Louisville spokesman Brian Reynolds said the archdiocese had worked with law enforcement authorities investigating the case.

        “The archdiocese has cooperated with local police ... and will continue to do so,” Mr. Reynolds said. “We have faith in the justice system.”

        Within the last decade, two priests in Kentucky have been convicted of charges stemming from sexual abuse. One of the men remains in prison.

        Father Miller is the first priest to have criminal charges brought against him in Louisville since people began voicing in mid-April allegations of abuse. More than a dozen living and deceased priests have been named in lawsuits against the archdiocese.

        Officials with the archdiocese and Father Miller settled two lawsuits in 1990 and 2000 accusing him of abuse.

        The Archdiocese of Louisville includes 220,000 parishioners in 24 counties. Three of the lawsuits against it allege sexual abuse by former Lexington Bishop J. Kendrick Williams when he was a priest in Louisville. Bishop Williams, 65, has denied the allegations.

        Bishop Williams resigned this month, becoming the third U.S. bishop brought down by the sex scandal engulfing the Roman Catholic Church.


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- Priest indicted on sex charges