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  Seven New Suits Claim Sex Abuse, Target Priests
5 Filings Level Allegations against Miller

By Gregory Hall
Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
May 1, 2002

Seven more adults are alleging that they were sexually abused by Catholic priests when they were children in lawsuits filed yesterday.

That brings to 11 the number of civil cases against the Archdiocese of Louisville that involve clergy.

Five of the new lawsuits involve accusations against the Rev. Louis E. Miller, who retired in March. Those follow three others filed in recent weeks.

In the other two suits filed yesterday, one accused the Rev. Arthur L. Wood, who is now deceased, and the Rev. Daniel C. Clark of sexual abuse.

All of yesterday's lawsuits and the other lawsuits involving Miller have been filed by individuals represented by attorney William McMurry. All seek an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages.

The new claims "clarify a pattern of permissive sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church," McMurry said in an interview yesterday.

Miller was not available for comment yesterday. His attorney, Frank Radmacher, said the priest has denied all allegations in the past and he assumes that Miller will do so now.

Church officials haven't seen the new lawsuits and do not comment on pending suits, said Cecelia Price, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jeff Derouen, a spokesman for Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Stengel, said that the office has received several allegations of abuse by priests and that they are being investigated. He declined to discuss them further.

Miller worked from the 1960s through the 1980s as a pastor or associate pastor at Holy Spirit, St. Athanasius and St. Elizabeth of Hungary in Louisville, and at St. Aloysius Church in Pewee Valley, St. Ann in Howardstown, and Our Lady of Mercy in Hodgenville.

Miller had been barred from working with children since January 1990, shortly after Archbishop Thomas Kelly learned of a complaint against the priest, an archdiocesan official said previously.

The new suits claim that the church knew of the abuse by the priests named in the allegations but did not report it to authorities at the time. That, the complaints contend, amounts to concealment and allows the lawsuits to be filed now, even though the normal statute of limitations in such a civil cases would have elapsed years ago.

The new lawsuits involving Miller claim that during the 1960s and 1970s, the priest sexually abused minors, including adolescent altar boys.

The details:

— Mark Gootee's lawsuit says that Miller abused him over a one-year period when Gootee, now 42, was a St. Aloysius altar boy when Miller was there in the 1970s.

— Bruce Taylor's lawsuit says that over a period of at least two years, Miller sexually abused him at St. Aloysius where he was an altar boy. Taylor is 39 now.

— Daniel U. Jennings' suit says that over a period of at least two years, Miller abused Jennings, then a minor, who was a lector at St. Aloysius. He is 40.

— Paul Williamson's complaint says that Miller sexually abused him in 1978 when he was an altar boy at St. Elizabeth of Hungary. He is 36 now.

— A suit filed by Paul Yenner, now 38, claims that Miller sexually molested, abused, battered and assaulted Yenner when he was an altar boy at St. Elizabeth of Hungary in spring 1979.

The lawsuit claims that until The Courier-Journal published a story on April 14 saying that Miller had been transferred from St. Athanasius and St. Aloysius because of alleged misconduct, Yenner did not know that the archdiocese knew of "Miller's sexually abusive propensities."

No criminal charges have ever been filed against Miller.

In the other two suits:

— Jeffery S. Koenig, now 33, alleges that Clark abused him in 1981 and 1982 at St. Rita.

Clark pleaded guilty in 1988 to sexual abuse and sodomy, according to a Jefferson Circuit Court record. He had to serve three months in jail with the remainder of his 15-year sentence to be served on probation.

Clark was "permanently removed from public ministry" at the time of those proceedings, Price said.

He is living at the Passionist monastery on Newburg Road, she said. He did not return a telephone call yesterday.

— Jeffrey F. Spalding accused Wood of sexually abusing him in 1972 when he was in the sixth grade at St. Ignatius.

Wood was ordained in 1959 and died in 1983, Price said. The archdiocese received one allegation of abuse regarding Wood after his death. She declined to discuss the specifics of that allegation and said no records of previous allegations against Wood exist.

The other lawsuit against the archdiocese involving allegations of abuse by Bruce Ewing, who left the priesthood in 1977 after a tenure at St. Vincent DePaul, where the abuse is alleged to have occurred. Ewing, who is now an aide to Alderman Steve Magre, has denied the accusation.

A suit has also been filed over allegations involving Joseph M. Greene, a longtime teacher in archdiocesan schools. The suit stems from a period when Greene taught at Ascension in the 1970s.

Greene is facing related criminal charges of sodomizing and sexually abusing two boys. He has pleaded innocent. He is suspended from his current teaching position at Our Lady of Lourdes.

The new claims "clarify a pattern of permissive sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church."

 
 

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