Lawsuit Alleges Sex Abuse by Priest

By Rebecca Nolan
The Register-Guard
April 27, 2007

A Springfield man is suing the Archdiocese of Omaha, alleging that he suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a priest nearly 30 years ago.

Cary Claar, 41, asserts in a complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Nebraska that the archdiocese knew of the priest's alleged abuse and that church officials, including some in Portland, worked to cover it up.

Reached at home Thursday, he declined to comment on the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages for physical and emotional pain and suffering, loss of income, health care costs and attorney fees.

"Employers of sexual predators have gone to extreme lengths to protect themselves from accountability to the victims," attorney Maren Lynn Chaloupka said.

"A conspiracy of concealment can inflict harm on a sex abuse victim that is as profound as the harm from the original molestation."

A message left after business hours at the archdiocese was not returned Thursday.

According to the lawsuit, Claar was a parishioner at an Omaha church where he says Father Duane Lucas groomed him and other preteen and teenage boys for molestation, beginning in 1978 or 1979.

Claar's attorneys write that Lucas befriended the boy and his family, gaining their trust, then sexually assaulted him for several years, starting when he was about 12 years old.

The lawsuit asserts that the archdiocese knew about Lucas' alleged pedophilia but made no effort to restrict his access to children or investigate his activities.

Claar told no one about the assault until 1990, when he spoke of the alleged abuse during confession. That priest made no effort to assist Claar, the lawsuit states.

In 2003, Claar told a priest in Springfield about the alleged assaults, according to the lawsuit. The Archdiocese of Portland notified officials in Omaha in 2003 or 2004 and arranged for Claar to undergo counseling.

The lawsuit alleges that neither the counselor, who worked for the Portland Archdiocese, nor the church informed him of his rights or encouraged him to seek legal counsel.

The counselor and the archdiocese instead "actively worked to delay" Claar's realization that he had suffered long-term effects from the alleged abuse and set about preventing him from taking legal action, the lawsuit states.


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