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  Siblings Contend They Were Abused at Children's Home

By Bill Roy
Wichita Eagle, The (KS)
May 21, 1996

Four brothers who say they were sexually abused in an El Dorado children's home 40 years ago have sued the Wichita Catholic Diocese.

The brothers, Eugene, Roy, Raymond and Donald Albert, contend in a lawsuit filed in Sedgwick County District Court last week that a nun and a priest, both now dead, sexually abused them while they lived at the St. Joseph's Home. The men are also suing on behalf of their dead sister, who they say bore the child of a priest who now lives in Columbus.

None of the siblings talked about the alleged abuse until 1993, when they were going through their sister's belongings and found a diary.

"We think the complaint is unfounded and we ought not to be involved in this lawsuit at all," said Father Ron Gilmore, the diocese's vicar general.

The Albert children - five boys and two girls - were taken from their Wichita home in 1948 and sent to live in the El Dorado children's home.

The lawsuit alleges that the Rev. William Wheeler, who died in 1994, fondled Eugene and Roy Albert several times in the mid-1950s. It also accuses Sister Agnesina Metzinger, who died in 1978, of having had sex repeatedly with Ray Albert.

The brothers allege that the Rev. Daniel Mulvihill fathered a child by their sister Darlene, who worked as Mulvihill's housekeeper. Darlene gave the child up for adoption, they say.

Two of the seven Albert siblings are not involved in the lawsuit.

Mulvihill did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Father Gilmore said the diocese conducted its own investigation of the Alberts' claims in 1994.

"We could find no real substance to their complaint," Gilmore said.

The diocese feels sorry for the family members, Gilmore said, but he and other church officials have a responsibility to protect innocent people from unfounded legal action.

Marlys Marshall, the Alberts' lawyer, said her clients have the right to sue the diocese because they realized - albeit 40 years later - that the abuse they allege caused them years of mental and physical pain and suffering.

Although the Alberts aren't asking for a specific amount of money, people who bring lawsuits similar to theirs must believe they have suffered damages adding up to at least $50,000.

The Alberts are suing, Gilmore said, because they want the church to change the way it deals with abuse and to make sure any abuse that might be going on is stopped.

"How many people does it take for it to be believable?" Marshall asked. "Do we need a thousand? Do we need a hundred? Why isn't one enough? Why isn't seven enough?"

 
 

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