Judge Refuses to Dismiss Molest Lawsuit against Priest

Associated Press State & Local Wire
October 16, 1999

A Superior Court judge Friday rejected a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against a Roman Catholic priest accused of molesting an altar boy.

The Rev. Walter Coleman had admitted he shared a bed with the then 11-year-old boy, but said he was asleep the whole time and cannot be guilty of sexually molesting the youth.

Coleman, in documents filed with the court in June, said that on the nights he slept with the boy, he was asleep "at all times."

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport had also asked that the lawsuit filed by the boy, now 31, be dismissed based on Coleman's statement.

Tom Drohan, spokesman for the Diocese of Bridgeport, said Saturday the diocese is disappointed by Judge David Skolnick's ruling.

"We feel that the motion has substantial merit, however, that's behind us now. What we will continue to do is work to make sure that court rulings are fair to both parties. That's an important element of the justice system and we haven't forgotten it," Drohan said.

Judge Skolnick said a jury could conclude from the facts that the priest was not asleep when the assaults took place.

"We are very happy that the court saw through this ridiculous and desperate argument that this priest, who was a grown man, accidentally molested this boy while sleeping," the plaintiff's lawyer, Douglas Mahoney said.

According to the lawsuit, filed in 1996, Coleman molested the boy from 1978-1980. Coleman, who was assigned to St. Patrick's Church in Bridgeport, owned a home with the boy's mother, land records show.


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