Man Sues Nuns, Claiming Abuse

By Stephanie Innes
Arizona Daily Star
March 7, 2006

An Arizona man who as a child during the 1950s was in the care of a group of Tucson nuns is suing them now, saying he was neglected and abused.

Frank Gibson Cannella and his wife filed a lawsuit against the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Wednesday in Pima County Superior Court. The lawsuit does not name the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson as a defendant.

Sister Alice Martinez of the local Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary said the religious order could not comment on the lawsuit because their attorney still needs to review it. The legal action also names five nuns, four priests and a maintenance worker who once worked with the order, and also lists 20 "Jane and John Doe" defendants.

Three of the priests named in the legal action — the Rev. Floyd Stromberg, the Rev. Charles Rourke and the Rev. Claudio Riol, previously have been identified by the Diocese of Tucson as having credible accusations of sexual abuse involving minors filed against them.

According to the lawsuit, filed by Cave Creek attorney G. David Delozier, Cannella lived with the sisters for three years during the 1950s, beginning when he was 4 years old. He again lived with the sisters during the 1960s, the lawsuit says.

During both periods, Cannella says he was subjected to various forms of neglect, trauma and isolation, including physical beatings. The suit says the abuse occurred at the order's former convent Downtown.

Delozier did not return a call Monday seeking comment.

The lawsuit claims Cannella was deprived of food and water and was sexually abused by the maintenance worker. It also says the sisters told him that if he revealed details of the abuse, he would suffer in hell. The suit does not specify a dollar amount the Cannellas are seeking.

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