Man Claiming Abuse Urges Others to Step Up
Denver Priest's Accuser Charges Others Victimized
archdiocese lashes back

By John C. Ensslin
Rocky Mountain News
September 11, 1997

The man accusing a popular Denver priest of molesting him 13 years ago said Wednesday that he hopes others come forward and report similar incidents.

''Based on the abuses I have endured at the hands of Marshall Gouley, and on the years of his relentless pursuit of me afterwards, I am deeply concerned for the well-being of all the victims of such abuse, including the potential victims,'' John Dean Ayon, 32, said in a two-page statement.

Gourley, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, has denied abusing Ayon.

Three more people claim they were victimized by Gourley or other Denver priests, Ayon's attorney said Wednesday. The first calls came on Monday, hours after news broadcasts reporting Ayon's federal lawsuit, attorney Windle Turley of Dallas said Wednesday. Turley said his staff has not had time yet to check out the allegations and could offer no details.

That brought an angry response from a spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Denver.

''He alleges he has nameless people making allegations against nameless priests and he wants me to make a comment? No,'' said spokesman Greg Kail.
''Anyone at anytime who has a complaint they want to bring to the archdiocese would certainly be met quickly and responsibly.''

Ayon filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Denver. He accused Gourley of molesting him as a teen-ager from June 1981 to June 1984 and also named the Catholic Archdiocese of Denver as a defendant.

''We have been contacted by the victims,'' Turley said. ''Some called and said they had been sexually abused and had reported it to the archdiocese.

Turley said he was unsure if all three people had made accusations against Gourley, but he said at least one did.

Ayon, a former tax accountant from Littleton now living in San Diego, said he issued his statement to make clear his intentions in filing the lawsuit.

''I know that many in the community, particularly the parishioners of Our Lady of Guadalupe, feel smitten by learning the ugly and unfortunate reality of Father Marshall Gourley's having sexually abused me as a child.''

Ayon alleges that Gourley abused him after the teen-ager went to the priest for counseling. He said he came forward now only after years of therapy and treatment for severe depression, which showed itself through alcohol abuse and attempted suicide.

''My desire at this time is to heal from both the emotional and the spiritual damages that were inflicted by Marshall Gourley's sexual assaults, '' Ayon wrote. ''I believe this is only possible by finally having closure by addressing this matter openly within the community.''

''It is my hope that in this process, victims like myself also come forward and start to correct the spiritual and emotional damages and feelings of guilt and shame with which they have been struggling.''


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