|Couple Sues Archdiocese over Sexual Abuse Issue
By Peter Smith
January 27, 2011
A woman is suing the Archdiocese of Louisville, alleging she was wrongfully fired as a bookkeeper at St. Therese Church after complaining that a priest who had allegedly been sexually abusive was living at the parish and circulating among children without supervision.
And her husband is also suing, saying the church's handling of this situation revived traumas he had suffered as a victim of an allegedly abusive priest decades earlier at the parish.
The lawsuit, filed by Gary and Margie Weiter of Louisville, also names Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz and two priests as defendants — the Rev. Anthony Olges, pastor of St. Therese, and James R. Schook, whom the archdiocese suspended in 2009 and removed from ministry in 2010 after receiving an allegation of past sexual abuse.
The Weiters are seeking damages for wrongful dismissal and alleging the archdiocese's action was "outrageous and constitutes a departure from all reasonable bounds of decency."
The lawsuit alleges that the archdiocese violated its own policies on responding to sexual abuse. It said Schook "walked around unsupervised at the parish and rectory at St. Therese in shorts and/or swimming trunks, sandals and T-shirts in front of plaintiffs … and others, including children."
The lawsuit alleges that Olges terminated Margie Weiter's job in May 2010 "in retaliation for and as a proximate and direct result of (her) complaints and attempt to officially complain about and expose (the defendants') wrongful concealment and protection of … Schook."
Complaints in a lawsuit give only one side of a case. The archdiocese's spokeswoman did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment.
The archdiocese suspended Schook in July 2009 after receiving a complaint that he had sexually abused a minor in 1985. After that, the archdiocese said it received other allegations against Schook from the 1970s and 1980s.
Gary Weiter was among 243 plaintiffs who settled with the Archdiocese of Louisville in 2003 for $25.7 million over claims of past sexual abuse. Weiter alleges said he was sexually abused by Edwin Scherzer, who has since been convicted on multiple counts of abuse, at St. Therese Church.
Weiter has been a member at the church for years but was unable to continue a volunteer job there because the dispute over Schook had revived his traumas, the lawsuit says.
Reporter Peter Smith can be reached at (502) 582-4469.
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