Sunday, March 30, 2003

Niece among accusers of priest

Sex abuse trial of Louis Miller slated to start Monday

By Lori Burling
The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - Mary Miller says it has been a rough year - for her and her family.

"My family hasn't been a family in more than a year," said Miller, niece of a retired Roman Catholic priest who is scheduled to stand trial Monday on multiple felony charges of sexual misconduct involving dozens of children.

Mary Miller is one of the alleged victims - all now adults - of the Rev. Louis Miller, her uncle.

"I've been waiting 30 years for this," Mary Miller, of Louisville, said in a recent interview. "Finally someone believes. I'm not alone. I'm going to get my day in court."

Father Miller, 72, of Louisville, is facing 50 felony counts of indecent and immoral practices with another and sexual abuse in Jefferson County, involving 21 alleged victims. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He also faces trial on similar charges in neighboring Oldham County in June.

The priest retired from public ministry nearly one year ago, when accusations of the abuse were made public. More than 80 adults filed lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville naming Miller as their abuser. The suits - which grew to more than 200 and named 27 priests in the last year - allege that archdiocese officials were aware of the abuse but did nothing to stop it.

Excerpts from a journal he kept while seeing a therapist were printed in the Courier-Journal - revealing that Miller had told church officials that he had abused children.

The charges against Miller are the first to come to trial in Jefferson County since the wave of lawsuits.

The onslaught of local lawsuits forced the state to begin an investigation into the alleged abuse cases.

Two other priests - the Revs. Daniel C. Clark and James Hargadon - former priest Bruce Ewing, and two teachers are awaiting trial within the next year in Jefferson, Oldham, Bullitt and Grayson counties. All five have pleaded not guilty and were employed by the Louisville archdiocese.

"We're preparing for a trial right now," said Carol Cobb, an assistant commonwealth's attorney who is leading the prosecution of Miller in Jefferson County. "But I believe he will plead guilty rather than go through a trial."

Miller's attorney, David Lambertus, would not comment. Miller has been living in a retirement home for priests since posting a $100,000 cash bond in June.

For her part, Mary Miller said she would be grateful if her uncle pleaded guilty.

"It would eliminate having to get in the stand. A plea would be a lot easier for me," said Miller, referring to testimony in which she would have to describe her alleged abuse in detail to a 12-member jury.

Mary Miller says she wants jail time.

"I feel very strongly that he should go to jail. If he is convicted and he's not jailed, I don't believe he's going to stop. Taking him out of the reach of children is the most important thing."

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