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Church in Crisis
The Rev. Daniel C. Clark
Louisville Courier-Journal
September 29, 2002

http://www.courier-journal.com/cjextra/2002projects/priestabuse/stories/clark_strita.html

[See the main page of this special section on the Church in Crisis.]

Ordained in 1980, Clark has been named in 17 lawsuits and was indicted in August by a Bullitt County grand jury on four felony charges of abusing boys. Police said Clark molested two brothers, ages 11 and 12, on numerous occasions between 1998 and May of this year while he was visiting their family. Clark has pleaded innocent to the charges and is being held in the Bullitt County jail on a $500,000 cash bond. Clark was removed from public ministry in 1988 after he pleaded guilty to sexually abusing two boys at St. Rita Catholic School in the early 1980s. Clark worked at St. Rita from 1980 to 1982, when Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly transferred him to St. Dominic parish in Springfield, the first of five posts he held over the next six years. Clark and his lawyer, David Lambertus, have declined to comment.

ST. RITA

PLAINTIFF: Paul R. Barrett
AGE: 38
ADDRESS: Shelbyville
OCCUPATION: Auto body shop owner
FILED SUIT: May 15
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: March 1981, St. Rita rectory
ACCUSATION: Molestation
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Barrett said he went to Clark for counseling in connection with his parents' divorce and was molested three times.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? Barrett said he tried to set up meetings with the pastor, the Rev. Vincent Schweizer, and another assistant pastor, who has since died. But Barrett said they kept putting him off. He said that he wouldn't tell them the subject because he wanted Clark to be present and didn't want him to be tipped off. Barrett said he also gave a statement to police in connection with the prosecution of Clark in 1988 for abusing two other boys. In a letter that has been filed in connection with Barrett's suit, a detective confirmed Barrett's assertion.
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "In 1981, I thought I was the only one Dan Clark had touched and fondled. If I spoke out, who would believe . . . my word against a priest's? In the church you are raised to worship the men God sent to spread his words. You are taught not to question the church. That leaves you by yourself with guilt, pain and the shame that you will carry from now until your end on Earth."



PLAINTIFF: Brian Bohannon
AGE: 37
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Travel agent
FILED SUIT: May 9
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1981, St. Rita rectory
ACCUSATION: Fondling
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Bohannon said that after having him sit in a rocking chair, Clark unzipped Bohannon's pants and fondled him.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "I have dealt with this, but I'm still angry because it was wrong."



PLAINTIFF: Kyle A. Burden
AGE: 33
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Law clerk
FILED SUIT: June 14
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: Summer 1982, basement of Burden's home
ACCUSATION: Fondling
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Burden said Clark drove him home after the boy's nose was bloodied in a softball game. While Clark was holding an ice pack to the boy's nose, he fondled him.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "You could pretty much say that my religious conviction died in my mom's basement that day. . . . It is inappropriate to take advantage of an 11-year-old kid and when you use your power as a priest to do it, it just compounds it."



PLAINTIFF: Patrick (formerly Mudd) Gatti
AGE: 32
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Warehouse manager
FILED SUIT: May 7
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: Spring 1982, Clark's car
ACCUSATION: Sexual abuse
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Gatti said he was abused once, when as a sixth-grader he went to Clark for counseling. The abuse occurred while Clark was driving him home, he said.
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: After answering some questions, Gatti said he wanted to consult with his lawyer. He did not respond to subsequent phone messages.



PLAINTIFF: Jeffery Koenig
AGE: 33
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Truck driver
FILED SUIT: April 30
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1981 and January 1982, St. Rita rectory
ACCUSATION: Fondling
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Koenig said that during therapy sessions, as he would lie on a couch, Clark would pull Koenig's pants down and fondle his penis.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? Koenig said he told his mother two or three years later.
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "At first, I didn't know whether what he was doing was wrong. I thought he was just acting like a doctor."



PLAINTIFF: Douglas S. Lynch
AGE: 34
ADDRESS: Shepherdsville
OCCUPATION: Aircraft maintenance technician
FILED SUIT: May 14
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: December 1981, January 1982, rectory bedroom and office and sacristy at St. Rita and on camping trips
ACCUSATION: Masturbation, oral sodomy
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Lynch said Clark molested him in the rectory and on a camping trip. During that trip, Lynch said, Clark also orally sodomized other boys.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? Not at the time, but he said he gave police a statement when Clark was charged in 1988 with molesting two other boys.
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "I would like to have a face-to-face with the archbishop and get an apology. I am 34 years old and just starting to have a life. I just want the church to admit it was wrong, that this never should have happened."



PLAINTIFF: Darren Myers
AGE: 36
ADDRESS: Shepherdsville
OCCUPATION: Machinist
FILED SUIT: May 23
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1982, cabin owned by pastor
ACCUSATION: Attempted oral sodomy
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Myers said Clark to tried to sodomize him and another boy on an overnight trip.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? Myers said he told two teachers and the principal. One of the teachers said she didn't recall being told and the second couldn't be reached for comment. The principal denied anyone complained to her about Clark.
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "Just think of the boys who could have been spared if Clark had been stopped sooner and prosecuted earlier."



PLAINTIFF: Christopher M. Phillips
AGE: 34
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Warehouse worker
FILED SUIT: May 17
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1980 to 1983, rectories at St. Rita, St. Dominic and St. John Vianney churches
ACCUSATION: Sexual abuse
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Phillips said he got to know Clark by playing after-school sports at St. Rita; later Clark invited him to the other two parishes where he served. He said Clark sexually abused him too many times to count.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "I feel sorry for him. I really can't explain it. I know he is sick, and I really cared about the guy."



PLAINTIFF: Thomas Laine Ross
AGE: 32
ADDRESS: Bullitt County
OCCUPATION: Manager
FILED SUIT: May 14
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1982, gym and rectory at St. Rita and on camping trip
ACCUSATION: Fondling
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Ross said that he was abused four times. He said the abuse occurred on a camping trip, where the priest abused several boys, and in the school gym and rectory. He said Clark fondled him under his pants and rubbed against him.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "I go to the church once or twice a year and will send my kids to Catholic schools. But I thought all priests were bad after what happened to me. I have real angry feelings toward the church."



PLAINTIFF: Louis E. Smith
AGE: 33
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Telecommunications technician
FILED SUIT: May 15
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1981 to 1983, St. Rita rectory
ACCUSATION: Fondling
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Smith said he was abused as an altar boy and when he was sent to Clark for counseling.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "I kept this bottled up for a long time. But I wanted to be one of the people who brought it out in the open . . . one of the voices that exposed it. . . . At first I was mad at the priest. Then I was mad at God. If priests were His word on Earth, how could He let them do this?"



PLAINTIFF: Christopher H. Spalding
AGE: 36
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Electrician
FILED SUIT: May 8
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1982, St. Rita rectory
ACCUSATION: Fondling
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Spalding said Clark fondled him through his clothes once. In another incident, Spalding said, Clark tried to reach under his pants. Spalding, who had worked part time cleaning the church, said he never worked there again after the incidents.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "I am mad at Clark, mad at the church and mad at myself for not doing something about this sooner."



PLAINTIFF: Scott A. Spalding
AGE: 34
ADDRESS: Fern Creek
OCCUPATION: Utility worker
FILED SUIT: May 13
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1982, rectory and school at St. Rita and at Spalding's home
ACCUSATION: Fondling
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Spalding said he was sent to Clark for counseling because he was upset by the death of his grandmother. He said Clark molested him under the guise that he was checking him for "nerves." After two more sessions, Spalding said, he told Clark to stop. Clark assured the boy he was an expert in counseling and knew what he was doing.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? Spalding said he told the pastor, the Rev. Vince Schweizer, that he didn't feel comfortable seeing Clark any more. Spalding says Schweizer told him that Clark should finish what he started, referring to the counseling, and that he didn't want to step on another priest's toes. Schweizer has not returned calls for comments. The archdiocese has declined to commend on the matter.
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "I don't go to church as much as I should. I feel out of place there, betrayed and let down. I do want my children to go to Catholic schools, and I hope these suits will protect them from this happening to them. As for Father Dan, he needs to rot in prison."



PLAINTIFF: Brian Weatherbee
AGE: 34
ADDRESS: Bardstown
FILED SUIT: August 29
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1981, St. Rita rectory
ACCUSATION: Fondling
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Weatherbee said Clark fondled him after asking him to help move some furniture.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? Weatherbee and his mother said in his suit that they reported the abuse to Schweizer. Weatherbee filed suit after reading about Schweizer's deposition, in which he said only one parent of another boy reported Clark's alleged misconduct to him.
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "If they had dealt with it in 1981 when I had the guts to report this, many other boys would not have been molested."


ST. JOHN VIANNEY

PLAINTIFF: Ralph Henry
AGE: 22
ADDRESS: Shepherdsville
OCCUPATION: Printer
FILED SUIT: July 19
DEFENDANTS: Archdiocese of Louisville, the Rev. Daniel C. Clark
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1986 to 1991, bedroom and bathroom at Henry's home
ACCUSATION: Fondling, oral sodomy
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Henry said Clark molested him in the boy's South End home when Henry was about 5 to 11 years old. He said Clark bought him toys to get him to go along and not tell anyone. Clark was a priest at St. John Vianney during some of the period. He is the only priest named as a defendant because state law gives plaintiffs five years from their 18th birthday to sue individuals for damages. Henry is the only plaintiff young enough to sue under that law.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: Although he was interviewed when he filed suit, Henry declined to comment more recently.



PLAINTIFF: John Henry (could not be reached for interview)
AGE: 31
FILED SUIT: Aug. 14
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1984 to 1986, Henry's home (he is brother of Ralph Henry.)
ACCUSATION: Sexual abuse



PLAINTIFF: Timothy Christopher Tharp
AGE: 32
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Disabled former restaurant manager
FILED SUIT: Aug. 22
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1984, St. John Vianney rectory
ACCUSATION: Masturbation
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Tharp said Clark befriended him because he knew the boy's home life was a mess. He said Clark molested him after he helped him move some furniture, and told him during the act that he loved him and that he had nothing to be ashamed of.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "I feel betrayed by the church. They obviously knew what was going on and made no effort to protect me. Nobody was notified at our school about what he had done before. It sickens me that they were more concerned about protecting their livelihood than the children. . . . I really trusted him and I learned that it is hard to trust anyone. I have lived my life like that to this day."


ST. DOMINIC, SPRINGFIELD, KY.

PLAINTIFF: John W. Grider
AGE: 37
ADDRESS: Bardstown
OCCUPATION: MBA student
FILED SUIT: May 13
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: Summer 1982, St. Dominic rectory
ACCUSATION: "Extremely inappropriate" sexual acts that were "worse than fondling"
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: A 17-year-old student in public schools, Grider said he was abused when he went to Clark for counseling.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? Grider said he told his parents, now deceased, what happened and that his father confronted Clark and said his son wouldn't be returning for counseling. He said his mother wrote to Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly, according to a neighbor who Grider said read the letter.
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "I don't have any ill feelings towards the church -- it is just too bureaucratic. As far as Dan Clark is concerned, I have to feel sorry for him. I have kind of gotten over the hate. It takes a lot of energy to hate."
 
 

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