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Germantown Couple Dismissed from Volunteer Positions after Suit Filed against Archdiocese

By Charlie White
The Courier-Journal
January 29, 2011

http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20110129/NEWS01/301290066/Couple+dismissed+from+volunteer+positions+after+suit+filed+against+archdiocese

A Germantown couple who filed a wrongful-termination suit Thursday against the Archdiocese of Louisville Saturday accused the pastor of the church they had attended of retaliating against them Friday by dismissing them from helping run the parish bingo.

Gary and Margie Weiter said they were "devastated" after the Rev. Anthony Olges, pastor of St. Therese Church in Germantown, handed them each a letter, stating they could no longer volunteer in the church's largest fundraiser.

"I just want to know, why me?" a tearful Margie Weiter said during a news conference at their attorney's office.

Reached by phone at the church rectory after the press conference, Olges said he could not comment on the accusation.

The archdiocese has said Weiter's firing was a result of a staff reduction during the merging of parish offices at St. Therese, St. Elizabeth and Holy Family.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Jefferson Circuit Court, alleges Margie Weiter was wrongfully fired as the parish's bookkeeper in May 2010 after she complained about a priest James R. Schook being allowed to live at the parish while he was accused of sexual abuse a violation of the archdiocese sexual-abuse policy.

On Friday, the Weiters said Olges personally delivered letters to them stating he could no longer let them help run the parish bingo in light of news of the lawsuit, but that they are welcome to continue worshipping at St. Therese.

Margie Weiter, 64, now works two days a week at Our Mother of Sorrows, but does not attend church at St. Therese, which is two blocks from their house.

She said she was fearful when Olges walked into the office Our Mother of Sorrows to deliver the letter. Her husband said Olges then came to their home to deliver an identical letter to him.

In their suit, Margie Weiter said that when she worked at St. Therese, Schook walked unsupervised into her office and elsewhere in the connected church and rectory often wearing shorts or swimming trunks, sandals and a t-shirt.

The archidiocese suspended Schook in 2009 after he was accused of sexual abuse and removed him from ministry him last year after the finding the accusations were valid. Louisville Metro Police investigated a claim against him, but no known charges have been filed.

"No one's wife or daughter should have to go to work to see that, knowing that your husband was an abuse victim," she said, adding children also were present.

Gary Weiter, who attended the church as a child with his parents and 12 siblings, said his wife didn't tell him about the situation at work at St. Therese initially. But when she did, he said in the lawsuit that it brought back trauma related to sexual abuse he said he suffered decades prior as a victim of Edwin Scherzer, a former St. Therese pastor.

Sherzer was sentenced in 2006 to five years probation after being convicted of four felony couns of indecent or immoral practices with a child under 15 between 1956 and 1966.

Weiter was among 243 plaintiffs who settled with the archdiocese in 2003 for $25.7 million over claims of sexual abuse.

What plaintiffs received in the settlement fell into three categories, based on the abuse suffered. In one group, six plaintiffs averaged $26,666; in the second group, 160 averaged $82,622; and in the third group, 77 averaged $153,510.

Reporter Charlie White can be reached at (502) 582-4653.

Contact: cwhite@courier-journal.com


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