Former Ls Priest Sued Again for Abuse

By Rob Roberts
Lee's Summit Journal
October 6, 2011

A former Roman Catholic priest at Our Lady of the Presentation Parish in Lee’s Summit is again being sued for sexual abuse allegedly committed before he left the clergy in 1986.

The new charges against the former priest, Stephen Wise of Lee’s Summit, were filed Oct. 4 on behalf of an unidentified 39-year-old man now serving time for an adult sex crime. He alleges Wise sexually abused him for two years, between the ages of 10 and 12, while Wise was assigned to Our Lady of the Presentation.

The civil case, filed in Jackson County Circuit Court, also seeks damages against the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese, which is accused of being aware of Wise’s actions and moving him from church to church instead of stopping him. The lawsuit also makes reference to another “John Doe” plaintiff, who allegedly was sexually abused by Wise around 1980 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

According to the lawsuit, that plaintiff approached a bishop “and asked him if it was okay if Father Wise touched him.” The bishop responded that the plaintiff “should be a good boy and quit running in the church,” the lawsuit states. Rebecca Randles, a lawyer with Randles, Mata & Brown LLC of Kansas City, represented the plaintiff in the 2008 case and is now representing the plaintiff in the case filed this week.

Randles said the earlier case was dismissed because her client was among 47 plaintiffs who shared in a $10 million settlement reached with the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese in 2008 after the plaintiffs had filed sexual abuse lawsuits against the diocese and 12 priests, including Wise.

Randles, one of six attorneys who represented those 47 plaintiffs, said her current client was not aware of the 2008 legal actions.

“He was undergoing his own particular set of difficulties then,” she said. The realization that Wise had sexually abused him, Randles added, “didn’t come flashing out until he was in counseling after he was incarcerated” in 2009. According to the lawsuit filed Oct. 4, Wise sought to recruit the plaintiff and other boys to work as altar boys when the plaintiff was about 10.

“Plaintiff’s family was a devout Catholic family that instilled a deep respect for the Catholic Church and reverence for its clergy in the plaintiff as a boy,” the lawsuit adds, and Wise “assumed the role of a father figure for the young boy.” Between acts of sexual abuse, the lawsuit alleges, “Wise behaved as though the abuse were normal, even beneficial for the plaintiff” and told him “the sexual abuse was an act of love.”

As a result, the lawsuit contends, the plaintiff has suffered distrust of authority figures and relationship difficulties. He continues to suffer shock, emotional distress, suicidal thoughts, humiliation and loss of self-esteem, the lawsuit adds. The plaintiff is asking for a jury trial.



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