Pedophile Ex-Priest Viewed Himself As a Friend of Youth

Jane Prendergast
Cincinnati Enquirer
November 18, 1995

Earl Bierman, who allegedly abused dozens of children in Northern Kentucky while a Catholic priest between the 1960s and 1980s, has spoken publicly for the first time about his problems.

A two-hour videotaped deposition, taken in September at the Kentucky State Reformatory, where Bierman is serving a 20-year sentence for criminal abuse, was played Friday on the eighth day of a civil trial against the Diocese of Covington.

Bierman said he remembered taking John Secter, who is suing the diocese because of Bierman's actions, into his guidance office at Covington Latin School. But he said he never took Secter into the back of the chapel alone, where Secter claims some of the abuse occurred.

Bierman said he knew nothing about a group of gay priests that Secter claims Bierman wanted to take him to.

And he claimed the Rev. Robert Klein, who testified earlier in the case that he reported as many as 40 Bierman victims in the early 1960s at Newport Catholic High School, stirred up such stories, which Bierman says were false, because he was jealous of him.

Bierman said he never knew Klein investigated him.

He said he had a good relationship with the youths of the church and that they trusted him very much.

There were many details that Bierman, who is taking the strong tranquilizing drug Thorazine, said he didn't remember.

He did remember having many electroshock treatments (there were 19) at a New Mexico treatment facility in the 1960s.

Secter, who is suing for an undisclosed amount of money, claims the diocese should be held financially responsible because officials knew about Bierman's sexual contact with boys as early as 1961, but did not do enough to prevent future victims.

The diocese says church officials did all they knew how to do at the time to get Bierman help.

One of the diocese's expert witnesses testified Friday that the first significant publications on child abuse did not occur until about 1978.

Psychotherapist Lane Veltkamp, with the University of Kentucky's Department of Psychiatry, said in the early 1960s and 1970s, depression or anxiety were thought to be the real problems behind sexual abuse of children and that abusers were usually treated for those things.

At that time, he said, child abuse "was felt to be something that a person could control themselves."

The trial continues Monday in Kenton Circuit Judge Gregory Bartlett's courtroom. Testimony is expected to conclude then, with closing arguments and the case's going to the jury Tuesday.


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