Latest Lawsuits Bring Number of Louisville-Area Plaintiffs to 87

By Smith Peter
Courier-Journal [Louisville, KY]
May 22, 2002

Besides Bishop J. Kendrick Williams of Lexington, priests named in lawsuits yesterday include the Rev. Robert A. Bowling, a former Louisville priest who is now pastor of a church in Reno, Nev.

And the plaintiffs include Jim Strader, known for his local broadcasts and trade shows about hunting and fishing. He alleged in his lawsuit that he was molested by the Rev. Louis E. Miller in the early 1960s.

The latest suits against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville, which bring the total to 87, also accuse two other priests who have not been named previously.

Details of the suits involving the priests not previously named:

• Karen Newton Mouser and Janice Hicks Unseld allege sexual misconduct in the early 1960s by Bowling, a priest working at Holy Cross Church in Loretto, Ky.

According to archdiocesan spokeswoman Cecelia Price, Bowling worked in Louisville early in his career but left the area decades ago and is based at the Diocese of Reno, Nev.

Bowling is now pastor of St. Therese Church of the Little Flower in Reno and holds the honorary title of monsignor. The parish's Web site says he served at St. Rita, Holy Cross and Guardian Angels churches in Kentucky before moving to Nevada in 1969.

A woman who answered the phone at the Diocese of Reno said the diocese's bishop, spokesman and priests were all away on retreat and could not be reached for comment.

• Shannon Shaughnessy Age and Deborah Shaughnessy Ernspiker allege abuse by the Rev. Kevin Cole between 1968 and 1970 at St. Luke Church in Louisville.

Brian Reynolds, chief administrative officer for the Louisville archdiocese, said Cole, who was a member of a Franciscan religious order, died in 1990.

• John C. Scott alleges he was abused by "Father Scherzer" at St. Edward Church and School in the 1950s, when Scott was about 12 years old.

Reynolds said a Rev. Edwin Scherzer served at St. Edward in the 1950s. He last served at Our Lady Help of Christians Church before retiring in 1995. Scherzer declined to comment and referred a reporter to the archdiocese.

Among the other suits filed yesterday, four plaintiffs allege abuse by Miller, raising to 36 the number of people accusing the retired priest of incidents from the late 1950s and the 1980s:

• Strader alleges that he was molested by Miller when he was learning to be an altar boy at Holy Spirit Church.

Strader, 52, said, "As a public figure, I feel a certain amount of trepidation coming forward, but this is not our dark secret, this is the church's dark secret. Evil can only operate in the darkness."

• James L. Boklage Sr. alleges Miller molested him in 1964, when Boklage was a 12-year-old patient at SS. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital. Miller served as a chaplain at the hospital.

• James C. Hess alleges Miller molested him at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church between 1983 and 1988, when Hess was between the ages of 10 and 15. The lawsuit says Hess reported the abuse to a school principal but was told to "go home and pray and never speak of this again."

• William R. Birk alleges he was molested by Miller at St. Aloysius Church and School in Pewee Valley in the mid- to late-1970s.

Miller was removed from ministry with children in 1990 and retired completely this year. He has denied allegations made in the lawsuits.

Two other plaintiffs, Larry Burkhead and Robert A. Graf, allege abuse by the late Rev. Arthur L. Wood, who is already named in 19 other suits.

The archdiocese has not commented on any of the suits filed against it. Claims made in filing a lawsuit give only one side of the case.

"This is not our dark secret, this is the church's dark secret," said local outdoorsman Jim Strader, 52, who alleges he was molested by a priest in the early 1960s.


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