|2nd Region Priest Accused of Molestation
By Marisa Kwiatkowski
December 6, 2008
CROWN POINT | The Diocese of Gary now is embroiled in two separate lawsuits involving molestation allegations against former priests.
Former Hammond Catholic priest Stanley Staniszewski is accused in a civil lawsuit pending in Lake Superior Court of sexually molesting an altar boy from 1979 through 1981. The then-altar boy, now a Tennessee resident, was a student at St. Casimir Catholic Church's grade school and a member of the church when he was fondled, molested and assaulted, court records state. Staniszewski is no longer affiliated with the Diocese of Gary.
And earlier this week, former region priest Richard Emerson and the Diocese of Gary were named in a civil lawsuit filed in Lake Superior Court by the family of a Hobart teen who said Emerson repeatedly molested him in 2003.
The church has been "devastated" by the recent allegations, Deacon Mark Plaiss said Friday.
Plaiss, spokesman for the Diocese of Gary, said priests who are convicted of molesting underage children give the church "a black eye." Staniszewski and Emerson face no criminal charges.
"I'm a deacon, but I'm also a parent," he said. "It's devastating to the church. We at the church don't condone these crimes against children."
Other faiths are not immune to accusations against their religious leaders, but recent cases filed against the Catholic Church and its priests have garnered widespread attention.
In the case involving Emerson, the boy was 11 years old and a member of St. Thomas More Church in Munster at the time the alleged incident, court records state.
The suit accuses the diocese of concealing Emerson's criminal conduct and continuing to allow him "unlimited access to unsupervised young boys despite similar complaints of sexual molestation," court records state. Emerson also is named in two other civil lawsuits alleging molestation in Florida.
In August 2005, the Diocese of Gary announced at least two cases of reported molestation -- one involving a boy in Florida and another case involving a different boy -- had been deemed credible by a diocesan review board.
In the case involving Staniszewski, the lawsuit accuses the Diocese of Gary of knowing about Staniszewski's conduct and failing to intercede.
Since 1981, the accuser suppressed the traumatic memories and did not remember what happened until late 2006 or early 2007, court records state.
No criminal charges have been filed against Staniszewski. The allegations exceeded the statute of limitations on sex crimes, authorities said.
The accuser states in court filings that Staniszewski's actions caused "long-term emotional and psychiatric trauma" that included mental harm, sexual dysfunction, lack of martial intimacy, guilt, emotional pain, anger and embarrassment.
The victim has continuing medical and psychological therapy for the alleged incidents, court records state.
Court records indicate Staniszewski has a Cicero, Ill., address.
Staniszewski's case is set for hearing on March 9 in Lake Superior Court Judge John Pera's court.
Neither the victim nor Staniszewski's attorneys could be reached Friday for comment.
Region religious leaders accused of criminal misconduct
A.V. Ballenger -- The former deacon at First Baptist Church of Hammond was convicted in 1993 of fondling a 7-year-old girl in the summer of 1991 in his Sunday school class. Three other women testified during Ballenger's trial that he had also molested them as children.
William A. "Andy" Beith -- The former Baptist school principal pleaded guilty in 2002 to molesting an 11-year-old female student at Liberty Baptist Academy in Lake Station. When the girl's parents learned of the relationship, days later, Beith made arrangements to run away with her. They fled through several states, having sex on several occasions, while the subject of a nationwide FBI manhunt. They were apprehended May 7, 2001, outside a Las Vegas motel. Beith pleaded guilty to crossing state lines with the intent of having sex with the underage girl.
Richard Emerson -- The former region priest was accused this week in a Lake Superior Court civil lawsuit of repeatedly molesting a then-11-year-old boy in 2003. Emerson also has been sued in Orlando, Fla., in two unrelated cases of alleged child molestation. He was removed from Catholic Church clergy in 2006.
Don Grass -- The former region pastor admitted he molested a young female in the late 1960s while Grass was an associate pastor at Holy Angels Cathedral in Gary. Grass was the pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Crown Point when he was removed in 2003 by Gary Bishop Dale Melczek. Grass was removed shortly after the molestation was uncovered.
Chester Mulligan -- The former East Chicago pastor was charged in 2003 with two felony counts of sexual misconduct with a minor for allegedly having sex multiple times with a then-14-year-old girl between 1997 and 2001, Lake Criminal Court records state. He ministered during that time at the Central Baptist Church in East Chicago. Mulligan resigned from Central Baptist in December 2001. His criminal case is still pending. Mulligan is now a pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Miami.
Stanley Staniszewski -- The former Hammond Catholic priest is accused in a Lake Superior Court civil lawsuit of sexually molesting an altar boy from 1979 through 1981. The accuser, now a Tennessee resident, was a student at St. Casimir Catholic Church's grade school and a member of the church when he was fondled, molested and assaulted, court records state. Staniszewski is no longer affiliated with the Diocese of Gary.
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