Sexual Abuse Case Filed against Logan County Priest
Man Says Subiaco Academy Priest Sexually Abused Him in 1970s
TheHometownChannel.com [Logan County AR]
March 2, 2005
LOGAN COUNTY, Ark. -- On top of the more than 1,000 new allegations of abuse cases reported in the Catholic Church nationwide, a new case has been filed in the Hometown area.
As 40/29's Beth Burnett reported Wednesday, the case involves a priest and a former student at Subiaco Academy -- a Catholic school in Logan County. The alleged abuse took place in 1976, and officials said the alleged victim in the case waited until he was an adult to file his complaint.
According to the federal lawsuit filed in Fort Smith, Joffre J. Miller claims that the Rev. Nicholas Fuhrmann, who worked as a priest at Subiaco Academy, sexually abused him. Miller now lives in Texas.
A complaint filed by Miller's attorneys says that "in the course and scope as teacher and boxing coach, Furhmann exploited his authority and position over Joffre and thereby gained access to Joffre's body using the pretext of massaging him due to the strains of boxing." The complaint goes on to allege that "massages led to Fuhrmann sexually molesting Joffre from 1976 until 1979."
Fuhrmann and the school are both listed as defendants in the case. Miller is asking for more than $75,000 in damages.
School officials denied the abuse. Officials said Fuhrmann still works at the Catholic school but is not involved in teaching or ministries.
Abbot Gerome Kodell said allegations in the Catholic church nationwide have dramatically changed the way Subiaco Academy operates.
"But also just that we don't get ourselves in a situation where we are under suspicion because we can't be nearly as free as we did in the past -- because some of that was too free," Kodell said. "But we can't get as close to the students as we did before, and it's really a shame."
Miller filed a complaint with school in March 2002. The school denied that the abuse happened, which is why Miller's attorneys filed the lawsuit.
Miller was 13 at the time of the alleged abuse. His complaint states that the abuse led him to use alcohol and illegal drugs.
The plaintiff's attorneys said they are waiting for a response to the lawsuit from Subiaco Academy's attorneys.
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