Catholic Bishops Served in Unprecedented Child Molestation Lawsuit
Bishops Served in CA, LA, MO, NV, PA and TX It Seeks Names of Accused Abusive Clergy Kept Secret by Church Officials
By Jeff Anderson
Yahoo! [St. Paul MN]
November 15, 2006
St. Paul, Minn., Nov. 15 /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 by a county sheriff:
Bishop Sylvester Ryan, Diocese of Monterey in CA
Bishop Robert Brom, Diocese of San Diego (CA)
Bishop Jude Speyrer, Diocese of Lake Charles (LA)
Bishop Michael Jarrell, Diocese of Lafayette (LA)
Bishop John Leibrecht, Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau (MO)
Bishp Joseph Pepe, Diocese of Las Vegas (NV)
Bishop Joseph Martino, Diocese of Scranton (PA)
Bishop Charles Grahmann, Diocese of Dallas (TX)
The 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.
Source: Jeff Anderson & Associates
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.