Abuse Survivors" Group Says Diocese Knew of Brother's Past
By Elizabeth Donatelli
August 14, 2012
The Franciscans have released the personnel file for a former Las Vegas Catholic friar after they settled a lawsuit in which he was accused of sexually abusing an 11-year-old boy.
Brother Thomas Thing's personnel file begins as a psychological evaluation in 1978. It recommends therapy and says he fears his impulses are "dirty and destructive." Yet he goes into the brotherhood and is in Las Vegas in the mid-1980s when he meets Tim Coonce at St. Christopher Catholic Elementary School, where the boy was in seventh grade and the alleged sexual abuse took place.
A quarter of a century later, Barbara Blaine -- president of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests -- and fellow victims and friends stood outside the Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas.
“We believe that he should not be any position of power or authority,” she said. “They did not warn anyone here in Las Vegas, and these parents trusted and allowed their son to be around Brother Thing, and the impact has been devastating for that boy.”
She said she believes the Franciscans knew he had abused others.
“There's an allegation involving Brother Thing in the boy's sleeping bag at a camping trip,” she said, “and that happened in California before Brother Thing came here to Las Vegas.”
In the early 1990s, Thing is accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. In 2000 he admits to having sex with a legal-age university student, acknowledging there was a power difference between them.
“The Franciscans and the bishop had a duty to warn the families and the parents, and they didn't do that,” Blaine said.
Thing is currently the director of student life at a college in California. News 3 reached him at his office a few weeks ago, and he denied the allegations.
The diocese provided no response on Monday, but when News 3 first reported the story they provided a statement saying they were not aware of previous allegations when he was moved to Las Vegas.