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  Eight More Lawsuits Filed against Archdiocese
One Abuse Claim Involves Priest Not Previously Named

By Gregory A. Hall
Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
May 24, 2002

Eight more lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests have been filed against the Archdiocese of Louisville. One involves a priest who has agreed to refrain from public ministry because he is the subject of a police investigation.

That priest, the Rev. Robert Gray, has not been named in any of the previous lawsuits against the archdiocese, which now total 96.

The lawsuit accuses Gray of molesting a boy attending St. Vincent DePaul School in the early 1980s.

Another suit filed yesterday contains an apparent time discrepancy - one person described as a priest in the suit had not yet been ordained at the time of the alleged abuse.

The lawsuit involving Gray was filed by James R. Sullivan Sr., 31, who claims that Gray molested him in and after 1980, when he was a St. Vincent DePaul student and Gray was assigned to that parish.

Gray was ordained in 1957 and served that now-defunct parish from 1974 to 1984, said Cecilia Price, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese.

She said that police told the archdiocese that Sullivan is the person who made the allegation that is the subject of the criminal investigation.

Police have an "active investigation" under way involving Sullivan and Gray, confirmed Sgt. Joe Culver of the Crimes Against Children Unit.

On May 6, Archbishop Thomas Kelly requested that Gray, who is retired but was working as an associate pastor at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church, refrain from public ministry, and Gray agreed, Price said.

The archdiocese has no records of any other allegations of sexual abuse against Gray, Price said, and "at the time Father Gray was confronted with this, he denied the accusation."

Archdiocesan policy calls for priests who are being investigated by police on allegations of sexual abuse to be removed from public ministry, Price said.

Gray is the 15th priest named in the lawsuits against the archdiocese. Most of the lawsuits, including Sullivan's, have been filed by attorney William McMurry.

None of the priests are named as defendants. Claims made in filing a lawsuit give only one side of the case.

In language mirroring the other lawsuits, the complaints filed yesterday allege that the priests "engaged in a pattern" of sexually abusing children and that archdiocesan officials knew about the alleged abuse and did nothing. The lawsuits, however, do not offer evidence of such a pattern.

Sullivan's lawsuit also alleges abuse by the Rev. Louis E. Miller, who has been named in more than 30 other lawsuits.

Sullivan's lawsuit says that after the alleged abuse by Gray, he approached Miller, who was at St. Elizabeth and served as an administrator of Boy Scout Troop 17, which met at the church.

The second time Gray talked to Miller, the lawsuit says, "Miller reached out with his hand and grabbed the plaintiff's genitals, asking the plaintiff, 'Is this what Father Gray did to you?' "

Price said she could not say what involvement, if any, Miller had with the Scout troop, although Miller was at St. Elizabeth at the time mentioned in Sullivan's lawsuit.

The case with the time discrepancy was filed by Joseph A. Ball Jr. His suit says he was abused "in the early 1950s" by Miller, who the suit says was a counselor at Camp Tall Trees in Otter Creek Park in Meade County. The lawsuit also says he confessed to a priest who swore him to secrecy. In an interview yesterday, Ball said the confession was at the camp that same week. However, the priest he named was not ordained until 1967.

In an interview yesterday, Ball said he was 11 or 12 at the time. He declined to give his age now.

Miller served as a counselor at the camp before he was ordained a priest in 1956, said Hans Poppe, an attorney who works with McMurry.

After the alleged incident with Miller, the complaint says that Ball "confessed" about the abuse to "Priest Thomas P. Creagh, who was then serving as Camp Tall Trees director."

The lawsuit says Creagh then asked Ball questions such as, "Did it feel good?" and told the boy he was forgiving him of "the sin you committed, but it's important that you never mention this outside of confession. You and I are sworn to secrecy."

Creagh, however, was not ordained until 1967, Price said, and could not have heard a confession before his ordination. Ball, however, said in an interview that he is right and the archdiocese should check its records.

Price also could not say if Miller had worked at Tall Trees.

She said she was not aware of Creagh ever having been director of the camp, but she said she could not say whether he had ever served there.

Creagh resigned recently as pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church after he was named in another lawsuit alleging he committed sexual abuse. He has declined to speak with the media, Price said, and he could not be reached for comment.

When a reporter pointed out the discrepancy to McMurry, he said the allegation against Creagh could be wrong, although Ball "was quite certain when I talked to him."

Ball is a Jefferson County deputy sheriff, McMurry said.

Four other lawsuits filed yesterday also involve Miller:

-- Charles A. Hampton, 41, says that Miller sexually abused him around 1973, when he served as an altar boy at St. Aloysius Church in Pewee Valley, where Miller was assigned.

-- Julie A. Baker, 50, says that in the early 1960s when she was a student at Holy Spirit School, Miller molested her in his car on the way home from a rehearsal.

-- Andrew J. Corcoran, 53, says that from September 1958 through 1961, when he served as an altar boy at Holy Spirit Church, Miller sexually abused him.

-- Timothy S. Dobson says that around 1981, when he was 11 and an altar boy at St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Miller sexually abused him.

Miller, who could not be reached yesterday, has denied other allegations of abuse.

In another new lawsuit, Darren Myers, 35, says that around 1981, when he was a student at St. Rita School, the Rev. Daniel C. Clark sexually abused him.

The lawsuit says three "church administrators" failed to report the abuse to police or "take appropriate action" in removing Clark. Myers reported it to the principal and two teachers, McMurry said.

Clark pleaded guilty in 1988 to charges of sexual abuse and sodomy in a criminal case. He could not be reached yesterday. He has been named in about a dozen of the lawsuits.

The final lawsuit filed yesterday alleges that the Rev. James Hargadon sexually abused John Kaelin, 41, on a camping trip to Rough River between 1974 and 1976. Hargadon has been named in one other suit. Now retired, he could not be reached for comment.

Priest denies claims in suits

Monsignor Robert K. Bowling, a former Louisville priest who is now a pastor in Reno, Nev., has denied allegations in two lawsuits accusing him of abusing two women when they were girls.

"They're bogus. They're a hoax," Bowling told the Reno Gazette-Journal on Wednesday.

In one of the lawsuits, Karen Newton Mouser claims that Bowling forced her to expose herself to him during confession in 1962, when she was about 11 and a student at Holy Cross Church and School in Loretto, Ky.

In the other, Janice Hicks Unseld says that Bowling sexually abused her from 1960 to 1962, when she was about 12 to 14 years old and a student at Holy Cross Church and School.

Bowling has been pastor of St. Therese the Little Flower Church in Reno since 1974.

Contact: ghall@courier-journal.com

 
 

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