Suit Names Priest, Diocese a Past St. Jude Student Says the Rev. Stieglitz Sexually Battered Him in the '80s.

April 5, 1994

A Fort Wayne priest who was forced to resign from his parish last fall has been accused of sexually battering a boy about 10 years ago.

The Rev. Richard Stieglitz and the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend are named as defendants in a civil lawsuit filed yesterday by Matthew W. Murray, of Belton, Mo. Murray was a student at St. Jude Catholic School and a parishioner at the church when Stieglitz was a priest there in the early 1980s.

The lawsuit alleges that Stieglitz, "with intent to satisfy his sexual urges," committed battery upon Murray in a sauna at the Canterbury Green Apartments clubhouse. Murray and another student were in the sauna at Stieglitz's invitation, the lawsuit said, after the threesome played racquetball at the clubhouse.

Murray's lawsuit names the diocese as co-defendant because it "failed to exert reasonable care in the hiring, supervision and retention" of Stieglitz . The Rev. James Wolf, diocesan spokesman, said yesterday that the diocese had not been notified of the lawsuit yet and wouldn't comment until then.

The lawsuit says the alleged battery caused Murray severe psychological distress that has required extensive counseling and caused him to suppress memories of the incident until October 1993.

The lawsuit seeks financial restitution "sufficient to compensate for the damages suffered and punitive damages to deter" similar actions in the future. Murray also wants his legal fees paid by the defendants.

Murray and his Fort Wayne lawyer, John B. Powell, were not available for comment yesterday. Stieglitz did not return a phone call.

At the time of the alleged offense, Murray was a seventh- or eighth-grader at St. Jude. Stieglitz was in a "position of trust, entrusted with the welfare of Murray," the lawsuit said.

The suit alleges the priest breached that trust, and as a clergy member , "failed to exercise reasonable care in performing his duties."

Stieglitz's alleged actions were "intentional, premeditated, willful, wanton and committed with reckless disregard of the consequences to Murray," the lawsuit says.

In mid-September, Bishop John D'Arcy asked Stieglitz to resign from his post at Queen of Angels Catholic Church because of their differences in opinion regarding the priest's 1992 adoption of four young men from Haiti.


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