Upholds Decision Clearing Bishop, Diocese
By Bill Sherman
February 1, 2014
|Bishop Edward J. Slattery.
Photo by MICHAEL WYKE
The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals on Friday upheld a
lower court’s decision clearing Bishop Edward Slattery and the
Roman Catholic Diocese of Tulsa of wrongdoing in connection with
a civil lawsuit filed by a man who says he was molested as a
child by a parish priest.
In June 2012, Judge Daman Cantrell ruled in favor of the
diocese and Slattery in Tulsa County District Court. The appeals
court found that the findings of fact and conclusions of law
adequately explained that decision.
The suit was brought by Kelly Kirk, who says he was
molested, and his father, Gordon Kirk, alleging that Slattery and
the diocese inflicted intentional emotional distress on them.
Kelly Kirk also alleged invasion of privacy.
The accusations stemmed from a 2002 slander lawsuit
against the Kirks filed by the Rev. Paul Eichhoff, a priest in
the diocese. As a result of that lawsuit, the Kirks’ names were
made public. The Kirks alleged that the diocese acted in concert
with Eichhoff to file that suit.
Eichhoff sued the Kirks for slander after Kelly Kirk in
2002 accused him of sexually assaulting him in the late 1970s
while Kirk was a student at a Tulsa Catholic elementary school.
No criminal charges were filed in the case.
When Kirk made the original accusation, Slattery put
Eichhoff on administrative leave while the diocese investigated
and then restored him to his position as the pastor of St.
Cecilia’s Catholic Church in Claremore, where he still serves.
When Eichhoff sued the Kirks for slander, they
countersued for damages from the alleged sexual assault.
In 2004, a Tulsa County jury cleared Eichhoff of sexual
assault in the civil suit but also cleared the Kirks of
In 2010 a second man, Paul Weber of Denver, accused
Eichhoff of molesting him as a child. The diocese investigated
and was unable to substantiate that allegation.