Chesley Subpoenas Priests to Testify
Claims Abuses Were Hidden for 50 Years
By Paul A. Long
The Kentucky Post [Covington KY]
Downloaded May 22, 2004
Lawyers seeking to show what they say is a 50-year cover up of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington have subpoenaed more than a dozen current or former priests to testify.
The subpoenas, issued by attorneys Robert Steinberg and Stan Chesley, call on the priests to give depositions in the on-going case in Boone County.
Several of the priests were suspended by the diocese -- one is no longer a priest -- after they were accused of sexual abuse. But Steinberg would not give specifics about why testimony was being sought from those particular priests.
"We're going to question them about the subject matter of our case," he said.
None of the depositions has been scheduled yet, partly because many of the priests are being represented by their own attorneys, rather than the lawyers for the diocese.
Diocese spokesman Tim Fitzgerald confirmed that the priests had hired their own attorneys.
The lawsuit, filed in Boone Circuit Court, says the diocese created an atmosphere that allowed sexual abuse of children to flourish and go unpunished. It has been certified as a class-action in what is believed to be the first such certification in the nation.
Diocesan lawyers object to the class-action status, and say a far better solution for victims would be individual settlements.
A hearing is scheduled for June 1 before Special Judge John Potter, who was brought in after Boone Circuit Judge Jay Bamberger recused himself.
Among those subpoenaed are Fathers Stephen Gallenstein and George Schuhmacher. Both men have been suspended on accusations that they violated the diocese code on sexual contact with minors.
Gallenstein is currently affiliated with the Lexington Diocese, and was last assigned to Good Shepherd Church in Frankfort. Schuhmacher for years was the director of the Campbell Lodge Boys' Home.
Also on the list is a former priest, Louis Holtz, who was suspended in 1995 and left the priesthood in 2002. He is under investigation in Campbell County for molesting boys years ago.
The attorneys also want to question Bishop William Hughes, who ran the diocese from 1979 until his retirement in 1995. Hughes, however, has not yet been subpoenaed.
This will be at least the third time Hughes has been questioned about the sexual abuse scandal. He gave a deposition in connection with a lawsuit against the diocese and Father Earl Bierman, and testified during civil trial on the issue.
Steinberg said he has no plans to question the current bishop, Roger Foys.
"Right now, we don't have any questions to ask him," Steinberg said. "If we do, we'll take it up later."