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  Former Priest Denies Raping Girl

By Ames F. McCarty
Plain Dealer [Cleveland, Ohio]
November 28, 1992

A former priest denied charges yesterday that he raped and molested a Euclid girl several times over a two-year period in the early 1980s.

Martin Louis, 53, a priest in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland from 1966 to 1990, appeared yesterday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court to answer to four counts of rape, four counts of felonious sexual penetration and six counts of gross sexual imposition. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges and was released from jail on bail a short time later. Louis' mother and father put up $2,000 cash and the deed to their Lakewood home as collateral for the $20,000 bond.

Louis was expected to return eventually to his home in Suitland, Md., near Washington, D.C., where he will await trial, said his lawyer, Suzanne Kennedy Horrigan.

"He'll be here when he needs to be here," Horrigan said.

"This is probably one of the most frightening experiences a human being could be involved in," she said. "These are horrific charges. Of course, it's been a terrible strain on him."

Allegations of sexual misconduct were first raised against Louis in 1990. The accuser, now 20, told officials at Lake Catholic High School in Mentor that Louis had raped and molested her at her home on numerous occasions in 1982 and 1983, police said. She was 10 years old at the time, according to authorities.

Louis' accuser told police that the priest was a family friend who would visit her house two or three times a week. After a while, Louis began to arrive while her parents were away, which is when the rapes and molestations occurred, she told authorities.

Officials at the diocese first heard about the allegations in January 1990. They spent the next three months trying to interview the accuser and her family but were denied access, said diocese lawyer Santiago Feliciano Jr.

"We were trying to be as cautious as we possibly could, but no one would tell us anything," Feliciano said yesterday. "The police refused to even provide us a name. This was the strangest case I had ever dealt with."

Eventually, diocese officials did verify the charges lodged against Louis. On March 23, 1990, Louis was asked to resign, and he complied.

Louis was immediately referred for evaluation and psychological treatment to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, site of a world-renowned pedophilia clinic, Feliciano said. The diocese also offered counseling to the girl and her family.

A lawsuit filed by the girl's family against Louis and the diocese in 1991 was settled out of court in August, Feliciano said. A confidentiality agreement prevents him from discussing the terms of the settlement, he said.

A positive by-product of publicity from the case has been the discovery of more girls who contend they too were victimized by Louis, the lawyer said.

"At this point, yes, other victims have come forward as this thing has become more public," Feliciano said. He declined to be more specific, revealing only that the suspected attacks happened years ago.

Louis began his diocesan service as an associate pastor at St. John Bosco parish in Parma Heights, where he served from 1966 to 1972. From 1972 to 1977, he was an associate pastor at St.

Hilary Church in Fairlawn.

In 1977, Louis left parish work to become a chaplain at Meridia Euclid Hospital, where he served until 1985. From then until 1990, he served at St. John and West Shore Hospital.

During his time as a hospital chaplain, Louis lived at Holy Cross Church in Euclid and at the Borromeo Seminary in Wickliffe.

Although Louis had a history of emotional problems, the diocese was unaware of allegations of sexual misconduct against him before 1990, officials said.

The diocese is confronting the problem of pedophilia in the priesthood head-on, Feliciano said.

He noted, however, that the majority of pedophiles are white, married men.

"Yes, there are priests who are pedophiles as there are (pedophiles) in any walk of life," Feliciano said. "Are there (statistically) more? I don't think so.

"What makes it most shocking is that priests are in positions of such trust. They are honored.

We call them father. We tell them our sins. When that trust is violated, it sends shock waves through the community," he said.

 
 

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