Suit against Archdiocese Can Proceed
Church Officials Argued That Sex-Abuse Claim Had Been Filed Too Late

By Jason Riley
The Courier-Journal [Louisville KY]
Downloaded November 15, 2003

A Jefferson Circuit Court judge has allowed one of 12 lawsuits remaining against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville to move forward, despite the church's claim that it was filed years too late.

Judge Thomas Wine on Thursday denied the archdiocese's motion for summary judgment in the case of Kyle Burden, the only plaintiff who opted out of the $25.7million settlement of sexual-abuse lawsuits. The judge ruled that the church failed to prove that Burden hadn't filed his lawsuit in a timely fashion.

Burden said he was ecstatic with the decision and hopes his lawsuit will bring answers to the questions he has for Archbishop Thomas Kelly. "I want to know how he could allow this to happen to so many people," he said. "I want to know how he could let priests who victimized children continue to operate in the archdiocese."

Burden said he and his attorney, Wallace Rogers, would ask for a trial date this month with the hope of taking Kelly's deposition in December.

Archdiocesan spokeswoman Cecelia Price said that she had not seen the ruling and that the church does not discuss pending litigation

It is unclear whether Wine's decision will be a signal of things to come for the remaining lawsuits against the church. But the church has offered a similar argument in other lawsuits, that the complaints were filed too late.

Rogers said Burden's suit was slightly different from other pending cases, in that the church claimed Burden should have come forward more than a decade ago, before it was widely known that the archdiocese had known about abuse by priests.

Burden's suit accuses the Rev. Daniel Clark of fondling him in 1982 after Burden, then 12, got a bloody nose while playing softball at St. Rita, where he attended school and Clark was a priest. Burden alleged Clark drove him home and fondled him.

Clark pleaded guilty in 1988 to sexually abusing two boys in 1981 and 1982. He is serving a 10-year prison sentence he received this summer in Bullitt Circuit Court on sexual abuse charges. Since the media covered the 1980s allegations and convictions, Burden was put on notice to file suit, and the statute of limitations began to run, the church claimed.

But Rogers argued that Burden couldn't know that the church knew about Clark's pedophilia beforehand, and that in 1983 the archdiocese sent Clark to counseling. Burden has argued that he didn't learn of Clark's pattern of abuse and the archdiocese's knowledge of it until he read it in newspaper articles last year.

Wine ruled that it was unclear whether Burden, who was enlisted in the Army from December 1987 until 1989, had knowledge of Clark's conviction and knew that he had a claim against the church.

Rogers said he hopes to get a trial date for early next year.

Burden's case is the only one remaining to accuse the archdiocese of concealing abuse by a priest who had been convicted criminally before the surge of more than 250 lawsuits that began in April 2002.

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