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Church in Crisis
The Rev. Arthur L. Wood

Louisville Courier-Journal
September 29, 2002

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

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

Wood, who died in 1983 at age 59, is accused of abuse in 34 lawsuits. He has more accusers than any priest in the Archdiocese of Louisville except the Rev. Louis E. Miller. The accusations emanate from the 1960s and 1970s while he served as a chaplain at SS. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital and St. Joseph Infirmary and as associate pastor at these parishes: St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Polycarp, St. Basil, St. Martin of Tours and St. Ignatius. In addition to the suits listed below, Wood is named in the suit filed by James Mudd in the listings under the Rev. Louis E. Miller.



ST. ELIZABETH OF HUNGARY

PLAINTIFF: John E. Beamon (could not be reached for interview)
FILED SUIT: June 26
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1961 and 1962, St. Elizabeth of Hungary
ACCUSATION: Unspecified abuse



PLAINTIFF: Kenneth R. Bledsoe (could not be reached for interview)
FILED SUIT: June 9
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: Around 1964, St. Elizabeth of Hungary
ACCUSATION: Unspecified abuse
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Lawsuit said Bledsoe was about 13 years old when he was abused.



PLAINTIFF: Larry Burkhead (declined to be interviewed)
ADDRESS: Louisville
FILED SUIT: June 21
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1964, St. Elizabeth of Hungary
ACCUSATION: Unspecified abuse



PLAINTIFF
: Michael A. Clark
AGE: 49
ADDRESS: Frankfort
OCCUPATION: Technical writer
FILED SUIT: Aug. 22
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1964, sacristy and rectory at St. Elizabeth of Hungary and in Wood's car
ACCUSATION: Fondling, kissing
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: While Clark was an altar boy, around age 11, he said Wood fondled and kissed him on several occasions.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "Once the church knew about it, they should have tended their flock and let people know how widespread it was and what they should do about it in terms of getting psychological counseling and so forth."



PLAINTIFF: Joseph J. Greenwell (could not be reached for interview)
ADDRESS: Frankfort
FILED SUIT: May 15
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1960, St. Elizabeth of Hungary
ACCUSATION: Unspecified abuse



PLAINTIFF: Mike Patrick Ising (could not be reached for interview)
AGE: 52
FILED SUIT: July 30
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1961 to 1963, St. Elizabeth of Hungary
ACCUSATION: Unspecified abuse



PLAINTIFF: Paul A. Jackson
AGE: 47
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Insurance claims examiner
FILED SUIT: June 14
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1961 to 1966, stairwell at St. Elizabeth of Hungary and at motel
ACCUSATION: Unspecified abuse
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Jackson was serving as an altar boy between ages 7 and 10 when, he said, Wood molested him on several occasions, usually in a stairwell near the sanctuary. He said Wood also molested him in 1966 at a Covington motel during an overnight trip with other boys.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? Jackson said he told his mother, who he said was a devout Catholic and found his allegations difficult to believe.
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "You've got some bad apples out there. . . . I just want (church officials) to stop the craziness."



PLAINTIFF: Paul Robert Johnson (could not be reached for interview)
FILED SUIT: May 23
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1961, St. Elizabeth of Hungary
ACCUSATION: Unspecified abuse



PLAINTIFF: Gary L. Ramser (declined to be interviewed)
AGE: 49
FILED SUIT: July 30
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1962 to 1963, St. Elizabeth of Hungary
ACCUSATION: Unspecified abuse



PLAINTIFF: Ronald L. Snipp
AGE: 53
ADDRESS: Versailles, Ky.
OCCUPATION: Disabled
FILED SUIT: June 7
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1960, Wood's car, restaurant bathroom and motel
ACCUSATION: Kissing, masturbation
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Snipp said he was an altar boy and that Wood kissed him on several occasions and masturbated him once while taking him out to dinner after Mass.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "In a lot of ways he became a surrogate (father) to me. I went everywhere with him -- circuses, rodeos, vacations. He taught me how to drive. It (the abuse) was just devastating to me. My mother thought I was going to be a priest and I did too." The abuse "changed me -- I didn't know how much. It made me totally untrusting of people."



PLAINTIFF: F. Michael Tschudi
AGE: 51
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Assembly worker, General Electric
FILED SUIT: May 13
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1961, St. Elizabeth of Hungary sacristy and in Wood's car
ACCUSATION: Kissing, fondling
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: When Tschudi was an altar boy about age 11, he said, Wood often kissed and fondled him. Wood often would take him and other altar boys to help with funerals, then take the boys out for ice cream or, on Saturdays, buy beer for them. Tschudi said Wood fondled whichever boy was the front-seat passenger. Wood also tried unsuccessfully to fondle him during a weeklong trip to the Cincinnati area with other boys, he said.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: Tschudi said that as he and other boys got older "we'd see Father Wood driving down the street and he'd have a boy in the car and we'd say, 'Oh God, he's in trouble.' "



PLAINTIFF: Dennis Vessels
AGE: 48
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Computer support
FILED SUIT: May 8
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1964 to 1966, St. Elizabeth of Hungary sacristy
ACCUSATION: Kissing
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: When Vessels was an altar boy about age 12 he said Wood kissed him several times at church.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? Friends, brothers
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "I'm hoping that, if the church doesn't eventually start to get it, that they are found guilty and liable for what they did and how many people's lives they have absolutely crushed."



PLAINTIFF: Francis J. Weis (could not be reached for interview)
ADDRESS: Louisville
FILED SUIT: June 7
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1964, St. Elizabeth of Hungary
ACCUSATION: Unspecified abuse


ST. POLYCARP

PLAINTIFF: Gary Biven (could not be reached for interview)
AGE: 51
FILED SUIT: June 7
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1966, Wood's car
ACCUSATION: Unspecified abuse
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Lawsuit filed Biven, who was 14 or 15 at the time of the alleged abuse, said Wood molested him twice in his car.



PLAINTIFF: H. Douglas Dukes Jr.
AGE: 49
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Sales manager
FILED SUIT: May 8
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1966, St. Polycarp sacristy and in Wood's car
ACCUSATION: Fondling
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Dukes said he was an altar boy and about 12 years old when Wood brought him into a "circle" of other boys whom the priest would take to movies or for fast food. Dukes said Wood would fondle him in the sacristy and during outings with the other boys.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "All he had to do was ask me not to tell my parents and I didn't tell my parents. I trusted everything he told me. He could have told me the moon was made of green cheese and I would have believed it."



PLAINTIFF: Kevin L. Dukes
AGE: 48
ADDRESS: Gilbert, Ariz.
OCCUPATION: Computer manufacturing facilities technician
FILED SUIT: May 13
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1966, St. Polycarp sacristy and in Wood's car
ACCUSATION: Fondling, kissing
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Dukes said that when he was about 12 years old, Wood would take boys out for food or movies and would fondle the boy in the front seat. Dukes also said Wood molested him and other boys in the sacristy.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "One of (Wood's) ploys was to normalize it. He'd get a group of four to five boys together and make it seem like a normal thing. We were so young we didn't know what to think. It was like it was part of the game, part of the secret. . . . It was just something to go along with if you wanted to be a good altar boy."



PLAINTIFF: Robert A. Graf
AGE: 48
ADDRESS: Bardstown
OCCUPATION: Purchasing manager
FILED SUIT: May 21
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: Around 1966, St. Polycarp sacristy
ACCUSATION: Kissing
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Graf said he was an altar boy and about 12 when Wood kissed him on several occasions.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "When it was happening, he was saying, 'You'd make a good priest.' It was one of those (in which) you didn't know what to do -- till all this came out."



PLAINTIFF: Thomas R. Keenan
AGE: 46
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Yoga teacher
FILED SUIT: May 14
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1966, sacristy and rectory at St. Polycarp
ACCUSATION: Fondling, masturbation, kissing
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Keenan said he was an altar boy and met Wood when he sought counseling for a difficult home situation. He said Wood abused him on several occasions.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "I can definitely remember detaching in that room. . . . I was staring out into nothingness. I kept that stare for a long time -- probably 30 years."



PLAINTIFF: Robert J. Mattingly Jr.
AGE: 47
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Disabled
FILED SUIT: May 13
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1966, rectory and school at St. Polycarp, Wood's car, Wood's parents' home and Abbey of Gethsemani.
ACCUSATION: Fondling, masturbation
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Mattingly was an altar boy and about 11 when, he said, Wood sometimes gave him $5 or $10 out of the church offering or would let altar boys drink communion wine after Mass. Wood also took him and other altar boys out for ice cream or on trips and would fondle whichever boy was in the front passenger seat, Mattingly said. On a trip to Gethsemani, Wood abused him in a room provided for visiting priests. He said Wood also abused him while he helped clean Wood's parents' house.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "One time I said no to him, and he said if I ever told my parents he would tell them I was the one who was doing everything. It's kind of like religious blackmail when you get down to it."



PLAINTIFF: Gregory L. Messina
AGE: 47
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Branch manager for a finance company
FILED SUIT: June 7
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1966, St. Polycarp sacristy and at a Wood family home
ACCUSATION: Unspecified abuse
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Messina said he was about 11 years old at the time but declined to discuss specifics.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? Other boys
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "All these years I thought it was me and didn't dream other people had been abused other than the little circle I was involved in. Looking back and seeing how many people have been abused, it really upsets me."



PLAINTIFF: Steven Mudd (could not be reached for interview)
FILED SUIT: June 8
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1966, St. Polycarp.
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: 12 years old at the time.



PLAINTIFF: Michael A. Sauer (declined to be interviewed)
ADDRESS: Louisville
FILED SUIT: May 17
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1966, St. Polycarp
ACCUSATION: Unspecified abuse



PLAINTIFF: Richard A. Sweazy
AGE: 46
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Maintenance worker
FILED SUIT: May 17
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1966, school cafeteria at St. Polycarp and in Wood's car
ACCUSATION: Fondling, kissing
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Sweazy said he was an altar boy and about 11 when Wood fondled and kissed him on several occasions.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "I hope this never happens again to anyone else."


ST. IGNATIUS

PLAINTIFF: William T. Ford
AGE: 40
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Transmission mechanic
FILED SUIT: May 17
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1972, St. Ignatius sacristy and on outings to movies or dinner
ACCUSATION: Fondling, kissing, oral sodomy
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Ford said he was an altar boy and about 11 when Wood would take him to dinner or movies. The priest would kiss him and sometimes fondle him under the pretext of tucking in his shirt, Ford said. One day after Mass, Wood molested him orally, Ford said. Ford said he quit being an altar boy. He also stopped regularly attending class and was dismissed from school.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "The priests . . . they were like God. They sure definitely could take advantage of somebody quick. I want to see it stopped."



PLAINTIFF: Mark A. Mays
AGE: 42
ADDRESS: Bloomfield, Ky.
OCCUPATION: District supervisor for state Department of Juvenile Justice
FILED SUIT: June 26
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1972, Wood's car
ACCUSATION: Fondling, kissing, exposure
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Mays said that after his father died, Wood would take him on overnight trips and would fondle or kiss him in the car on the way home. Wood would also give him alcohol and cigarettes, Mays said. On an overnight trip with Wood and another boy, Wood exposed himself, Mays said.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "I was somewhat a needy youth. I was trying to latch on to any male figure who would give me any time." After another family reported Wood to church authorities "it spread around the parish like wildfire. In a week, he was gone. He came to my house, trying to reassure my mom (that) nothing happened. I went right along with it. He groomed (manipulated) me so well, I said nothing happened. I even defended him."



PLAINTIFF: Timothy M. Scott
AGE: 40
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Engineer
FILED SUIT: May 7
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: Around 1973 to 1975, St. Ignatius sacristy, a cemetery, a house belonging to Wood or one of his relatives, St. Martin church and Wood's apartment
ACCUSATION: Fondling, kissing
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Scott was about 11 or 12 year old and an altar boy. He said Wood often took him out for expensive dinners and watched TV with him. Scott said Wood molested him while in the church sacristy and in the priest's car. A while after Wood was transferred to SS. Mary & Elizabeth, Scott's father was hospitalized. Wood visited and persuaded Scott to come to his apartment across the street, where other boys were playing. Scott said Wood was hugging and kissing the other boys and tried to kiss Scott.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? Scott said his mother had been contacted by another boy's mother about concerns over Wood. Scott's mother asked him if Wood had ever done anything to him. The boy was too embarrassed to tell all but admitted Wood kissed him. Soon after, Wood was transferred out of the parish.
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: Wood "would explain how he loved children the way Jesus did and not to feel uncomfortable or funny because this was the way he showed his love for little children. He would tell me that this was between me and him and that grown-ups might not understand him."



PLAINTIFF: Jeffrey F. Spalding
AGE: 41
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Human resources manager
FILED SUIT: April 30
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1972, St. Ignatius
ACCUSATION: Unspecified abuse
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Spalding said he was an altar boy around 11 years old when Wood abused him.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? Parents, who told pastor. Wood was transferred to a new assignment within a few days.
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "As an 11 year-old altar boy, my childhood innocence was taken from me by Father Wood. His sexual abuse would forever change my life and the man I would become. At age 16 I abandoned the Catholic Church when I felt I had nothing to believe in. Even today I struggle dealing with what happened and wonder if I will ever know the impact or just how much this event has changed my life."


ST. MARTIN OF TOURS

PLAINTIFF: Carl Atcher
AGE: 41
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Factory worker
FILED SUIT: May 14
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1970, rectory kitchen and school hall at St. Martin of Tours
ACCUSATION: Kissing, exposure
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Carl Atcher said he was 9 when Wood invited him into the kitchen for an ice cream float, something he did often with neighborhood boys. Atcher says he was sitting on Wood's lap when the priest kissed him. On another occasion, Wood had the boy come into the school hall to help with a chore when the priest kissed the boy and exposed himself, Atcher said.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? Atcher said he told his mother after the first incident. She told him never to go near Wood again but she didn't report the matter to authorities, he said.
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "They need to put a stop to it. You wouldn't send your kid to a day care if there were pedophiles, so why would you send your kid to a church where there were pedophiles."



PLAINTIFF: James L. Atcher Sr.
AGE: 44
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Factory worker
FILED SUIT: May 17
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1970, St. Martin of Tours
ACCUSATION: Kissing, fondling
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Atcher said Wood kissed or fondled him on several occasions.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "It messed me up . . . mentally. I've spent most of my life in prison. I can't say it's because of this, but I'd like to know what my life would have been like if it never happened to me."


SS. MARY & ELIZABETH HOSPITAL

PLAINTIFF: John Bell
AGE: 44
ADDRESS: Clarksville, Ind.
OCCUPATION: Auto salesman
FILED SUIT: May 8
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1973 to 1975, Wood's apartment
ACCUSATION: Kissing, oral sodomy
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: When Bell was about 13, he met Wood while visiting a friend at the hospital. He said Wood lured him to his apartment, gave him wine and molested him.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "Everybody wants to win the lottery. I'd like to go back to being 13 again. It's part of my life I didn't need to experience and has done nothing but make my life miserable. I can have counseling till hell freezes over, a Brinks truck can back up to my doorstep and unload money, that's not going to change what's happened."



PLAINTIFF: Scott A. Dickens (declined to be interviewed)
AGE: 38
ADDRESS: Kentucky State Reformatory
OCCUPATION: Prison inmate
FILED SUIT: June 7
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1978 and 1979, Wood's apartment
ACCUSATION: Unspecified abuse
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Dickens said he was about 14 and attending DeSales High School when Wood asked him to his apartment and molested him.



PLAINTIFF: James R. Pierce (could not be reached for interview)
ADDRESS: Louisville
FILED SUIT: May 15
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1975, Wood's apartment
ACCUSATION: Unspecified abuse
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Plaintiff was about age 12 at the time.


HOME OF WOOD RELATIVE

PLAINTIFF: Charles A. Brown
AGE: 47
ADDRESS: Louisville
OCCUPATION: Glass products inspector
FILED SUIT: May 15
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: From 1966 or 1967 to 1971, home of Wood relative.
ACCUSATION: Kissing, oral sodomy, exposure
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Brown was about 11 when he met Wood through a friend. Brown said he would meet Wood at a home of one of the priest's relatives, where Wood would molest him. Wood would give the boy $10 or $15 after molesting him, Brown said.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? No
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "I grew up in the projects. We had no money, and really that's what he held over me. When you don't have nothing, (when) you go through some periods with no electricity, $10 to $15 dollars is a lot of money. That's probably what kept it going for as many times as it happened."
 
 

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