More Details in Child Abuse Lawsuit against Catholic Diocese
June 7, 2012
BILLINGS- New alleged victims and abusers have emerged in a sexual abuse lawsuit which names the Roman Catholic Diocese of Great Falls- Billings and several religious orders as plaintiffs.
Tamaki Law, based in Yakima, Washington, recently added ten additional male and female defendants to a lawsuit originally filed for a Northern Cheyenne woman who contended she was sexually abused by a priest at the St. Labre Mission School in Ashland.
The woman alleges those abuses took place between 1955 and 1962.
In addition to the new defendants, the amendment to the lawsuit also names new plaintiffs and new alleged locations of abuse at diocese owned and operated missions, schools and institutions.
The 11 total defendants name St. Labre Mission School, St. Paul's Mission (or St. Xavier Mission), the Cheyenne Home Orphanage and other institutions.
The defendants claim they were mentally, physically and sexually abused by alleged employees of the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs in the case are the Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order, Order of Friars Minor, Capuchin, Congregation of Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, and the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Great Falls- Billings.
The lawsuit specifically names alleged abusers.
Previous to the amendment, popular Ashland priest Emmett Hoffmann had been implicated in the lawsuit.
The amendment, which also includes Hoffmann, also names Fr. Francis Duffy, Fr. Edmund Robinson, Br. Berhold, Br. Clarence Moreau, Br. Ryan and Sr. Barbara and Sr. Sigfrieda (pictured above).
All of the religious named worked with the institutions named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
In a press release, Tamaki Law said the amendment proves that the initial lawsuit was only the tip of an iceberg when it comes to abuse in eastern Montana.
"These folks that are coming forward are courageous people," Tamaki Law attorney Vito de la Cruz told Montana's News Station. "They have been suffering in silence for many years and they have come forward to seek justice in court against the diocese and the religious orders that we named."
Part of that justice, according to Tamaki Law, will involve the resolution of allegations that the diocese purposely moved priests and nuns with a known track record of abuse to remote schools and institutions.
The Great Falls-Billings Diocese says it has not yet officially been served with the complaint.
However, the diocese did respond to news of the amendment.
Part of that response is below:
"...(the) Diocese of Great Falls and Billings has a zero tolerance policy for any sexual abuse of minors, has had in place a sexual ethics policy since early 1990's that is widely disseminated and encourages individuals to report any such abuse. As such, the Diocese has and continues to remain open... to assist any victim of sexual abuse."