Diocese Reacts to Sexual Abuse Lawsuit
By Charlie Keegan
January 5, 2012
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings is reacting to a recent lawsuit filed against it. The civil suit claims a priest sexually assaulted a girl in the 1950's and 1960's.
Paperwork says Father Emmett Hoffman sexually abused the plaintiff when she was a student at the St. Labre Mission School in Ashland.
She is seeking an unspecified amount of monetary damages and wants the defendants to acknowledge the abuse and pain the alleged assault has caused her.
Greg Hatley, an attorney for the diocese, says he hasn't been formally served yet.
In the early 1990's, the diocese formed a victim’s assistance position for victims of sexual abuse by the clergy. Hatley says the plaintiff did not file a report in that system.
In 2003, Hatley says the diocese mandated everyone who works with children go through a safe awareness and training program.
Because she was minor when the alleged assaults took place, the plaintiff’s name was not included in the filings, but her identity will be made known to the defendants.
The lawsuit claims the diocese, which employed Father Hoffman, had a duty to protect children and should have known he was committing the acts.
The plaintiff is seeking damages for suffering physical, emotional, psychological distress and extreme anguish, loss of earnings and earning capacity, according to the filings.
The Order of Friars Minor, the Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order, and the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings are listed as defendants, Father Hoffman is not. He is retired, 85-years-old and lives in Ashland.