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  Monsignor Faces Sixth Sex Lawsuit

By Elaine Goodman
Reno Gazette-Journal
June 29, 2002

A sixth lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct by Monsignor Robert A. Bowling, pastor of St. Therese the Little Flower Church in Reno, has been filed in Jefferson Circuit Court in Louisville, Ky.

In the lawsuit filed Wednesday, Mary Clayton Sims said Bowling "sexually molested and battered" her and forced her to touch herself during confession between 1962 and 1963, when she was 13 to 14.

Sims was a student at the time at Holy Cross Church and School in Loretto, Ky., where Bowling was a priest and administrator.

Bowling's lawyer in Reno, John Arrascada, said Bowling denies Sims' accusations. Bowling, who has been pastor at St. Therese since 1974, has taken a voluntary leave while the Reno diocese reviews allegations in the lawsuits.

"He's deeply saddened. He's hurt. This is a 74-year-old man who has accomplished much in his career," Arrascada said.

"It hurts him tremendously to be away from the parish he's served so well."

Sims' lawsuit is similar to one filed last month in Jefferson Circuit Court by Karen Newton Mouser, who said Bowling forced her to expose herself during confession.

In an interview last month, Bowling said the students came to confession in a group, and the abuse alleged by Mouser would not have been possible with students, parents and nuns nearby.

Sims and Mouser are suing the Louisville archdiocese for allegedly knowing about Bowling, whom they describe as a "sexual predator," but not taking action to stop him. Three other women have sued the Louisville archdiocese claiming that Bowling sexually abused them as girls 40 or more years ago.

Although Bowling's alleged actions are the focus of the lawsuits, the women are suing the Louisville archdiocese and not Bowling himself.

The fifth woman, Christine Filippis Clark of Reno, has filed a lawsuit claiming that Bowling behaved inappropriately when she met with him in 1982 to discuss converting to Catholicism. Clark alleges that Bowling, who was at St. Therese at the time, asked detailed questions about her sexual activity with her husband, hugged her in an unwelcome way and kissed her on the mouth.

Clark is suing the Louisville archdiocese, saying officials there should have stopped Bowling's activity before he came to Reno.

Reno Bishop Phillip Straling said Thursday that the Reno diocese's review of the accusations against Bowling is moving slowly because the alleged incidents took place so long ago and in Kentucky.

The review panel will make a recommendation to Straling on how to handle the allegations against Bowling.

"I'm saddened there's another case pending," said Straling, who had not seen Sims' lawsuit.

Straling is forming a panel of lay people to advise him on sexual abuse cases, which also will review the Bowling allegations. The "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," approved by U.S. bishops at a conference this month, calls for each diocese to form such a review board.

Straling said Clark's allegations are the only accusations of sexual misconduct against Bowling during his tenure in the Reno diocese.

 
 

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