Family Sues Church for Son's Death

Associated Press, carried in Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA)
March 3, 1996

An Ohio family suing the Catholic Church says their retarded son who died of AIDS got the disease from members of a religious order who raped him while he lived at a church-funded home, a magazine reports.

The church denies that it's responsible for the man's death. But in a story being published in Monday's editions of U.S. News & World Report, Columbus Bishop James Griffin said if the church loses the case it might have to withdraw support from social agencies and hospitals because it could be held liable for any problems at the facilities.

The family of Joey Busam, who died in January at age 44, said brothers who operated the Good Shepherd Manor in rural Wakefield, Ohio, raped and sodomized Busam over a number of years. The home for adult retarded men was run by the Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd, a Catholic-sanctioned religious order that received money from the Columbus diocese to operate the facility.

Busam had the mind of a 6-year-old. He had lived in the home since he was 16, his mother, Claire, said.

"It was a very trusting relationship we had with the brothers, all of them," Claire Busam told the magazine. "I trusted them fully."

According to court records and testimony of former residents, brothers at Good Shepherd Manor held drunken parties in a special "playroom" and roamed the facility at night, molesting some of the men.

In interviews with a psychiatrist and relatives before he died, Busam said he had sexual contact with two brothers, Paul Hayden and Guy Dale Shaffer.

Hayden had pleaded guilty to attempted sexual battery charges in a sex abuse scandal at the home during the mid-1980s, the magazine said. The matter was not related to Busam.

Hayden, who lives at the order's residence in Albuquerque, N.M., declined to discuss the Busam allegations. "I don't feel up to the this," he told U.S. News. In court pleadings he denied having sex with Busam.

The order says Hayden does not have the AIDS virus. Shaffer, who died in 1989, tested HIV-negative, the order told U.S. News.

Lawyers for the Little Brothers suggested that Busam may have been infected by an employee who worked at Good Shepherd Manor after the brothers left. The employee died of AIDS in 1989.

The Columbus diocese said that under church law it did not have control over daily operations of Good Shepherd Manor and only gave "charitable" and " spiritual" support to the brothers.

The telephone at the diocese office was not answered Saturday.


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