Parties Talk Settlement in Ex-Priest's Sex-Abuse Case

By Ron French
The News-Sentinel
July 23, 1992

A settlement apparently is being negotiated in what may be Indiana's first clergy malpractice lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed in November in U.S. District Court, alleges a former local priest had sexual relations with an underage boy during a three-year period in the mid-1980s. The lawsuit asks for unspecified damages from the ex- priest, James Blume, as well as from Bishop John D'Arcy and the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. A settlement conference was held Monday behind closed doors in federal court. Attorneys for both sides did not return phone calls.

Terms of a civil settlement usually aren't released, but it appears those involved haven't reached an agreement. No entries have been made in the court record indicating the case is over.

Blume served at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in New Haven and later at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and St. Andrew's and St. Hyacinth's Roman Catholic churches.

Blume left the diocese in 1989 after the allegations surfaced. He now lives in Ohio and is no longer a priest.

According to the lawsuit, the alleged victim was a 14-year-old member of St. John's in 1982 when Blume "coerced (the boy) . . . into performing non- consensual sexual acts with him," the lawsuit alleges.

Blume continued to have sex with the teen on a regular basis through June 1985, according to the lawsuit. The sex acts often occurred in the church, and Blume sometimes provided alcohol to the boy before sex, the lawsuit alleges.

The complainant, who now lives in Boston, also alleges D'Arcy discouraged him from telling anyone outside the church about the alleged sexual abuse, when the man told D'Arcy of the abuse in 1989.

The diocese in January 1990 agreed to pay for therapy for the man, who was having emotional problems connected to the incidents, the lawsuit states.

D'Arcy has said the diocese paid for therapy for both the teen and for Blume. D'Arcy refused a request by Blume to return to the clergy after therapy in 1989.

In April, a second man came forward, saying he was molested by Blume in the mid-1980s. That lawsuit, filed in Allen Superior Court, alleges Blume molested the then-underage boy from 1985 to 1987, using wine left in the Cathedral's chalice following ceremonies to "seduce" him.

That lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from Blume and the diocese for emotional problems caused by the sexual contact.


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