25 More Catholic Bishops Served in Unprecedented Child Molestation Lawsuit
October 18, 2006
Bishops in AK, AZ, CA, DC, FL, HI, IN, MI, MN, MO, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, PA, SD, TX, UT, and WA Served
Those Served Include the President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference
The Lawsuit Seeks Names of Accused Abusive Clergy Kept Secret by Church Officials
ST. PAUL, Minn., Oct. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- 178 Catholic Bishops have been named as defendants in an unprecedented civil child sex abuse lawsuit brought by the family of a murdered Wisconsin man. The following Bishops have recently been served with the lawsuit:
Edwin O'Brien, Archdiocese for the Military Services, U.S.A. Roger Schweitz, Archdiocese of Anchorage (AK) Gerald Kicanas, Diocese of Tucson (AZ) Allen Vigneron, Diocese of Oakland (CA) Donald Wuerl, Archdiocese of Washington (DC) Gerald Barbarito, Diocese of Palm Beach (FL) Clarence Silva, Diocese of Honolulu (HI) William Higi, Diocese of Lafayette (IN) Alexander Sample, Diocese of Marquette (MI) James A. Murray, Diocese of Kalamazoo (MI) Dennis Schnurr, Diocese of Duluth (MN) Raymond Burke, Archdiocese of St. Louis (MO) John Myers, Archdiocese of Newark (NJ) Ricardo Ramirez, Diocese of Las Cruces (NM) Edward Cardinal Egan, Archdiocese of New York (NY) Michael Burbridge, Diocese of Raleigh (NC) Frederick Campbell, Diocese of Columbus (OH) Leonard Blair, Diocese of Toledo (OH) Msgr. Robert Siffrin, Diocese of Youngstown (OH) Donald Trautman, Diocese of Erie (PA) Edward Cullen, Diocese of Allentown (PA) Paul Swain, Diocese of Sioux Falls (SD) James Tamayo, Diocese of Laredo (TX) Msgr. J. Terrence Fitzgerald, Diocese of Salt Lake City (UT) William Skylstad, Diocese of Spokane (WA), who was served as Bishop of Spokane and again as president of the US Conference of Catholic BishopsThe lawsuit, which seeks no monetary damages, was filed in August in St. Croix County Circuit Court, Wisconsin (Court File No.06CV581) The lawsuit asks a state judge to force all of America's Catholic bishops and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to disclose the names of roughly 5,000 proven, admitted and credibly accused abusive priests in the US. The suit is being brought by the family of Dan O'Connell of Wisconsin, who, along with a co-worker, was shot and killed in February 2002 by a suspected pedophile priest who also owned guns and pornography.
After a two year police investigation a judicial hearing determined that the crimes were committed by Father Ryan Erickson of the Diocese of Superior (WI). O'Connell had uncovered information about the priest molesting children. After police interrogated him about the murders, Erickson committed suicide in December 2004. Further investigation revealed that Superior church officials had been aware of Erickson's erratic and questionable behavior and ordained him anyway.
The O'Connell family vowed to "make something good" come from the double murders and push for a five point reform plan to prevent future abuse. But in numerous attempts to work with the Catholic leaders the O'Connells have found little support or response, and they reluctantly filed this suit.
After considerable research and meeting with experts and victims across the country, the family believes church officials have made only minimal reforms and aren't abiding by their own policies on abuse.
They have also created a website, http://www.crusadeagainstclergyabuse.com , to further educate the public about the clergy sexual abuse crisis.
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