Lawsuit Says Now-Deceased Priest Molested Girl

By Peter Smith
Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
July 24, 2002

A woman filed suit yesterday against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville, alleging that a nowdeceased priest molested her in the 1950s at a home for children.

The lawsuit brought by Dorothy Marie Richardson is the first to accuse Monsignor Herman J. Lammers, who worked as director of Catholic Charities from 1939 to 1976 and as chaplain of St. Thomas-St. Vincent Home, an orphanage in Anchorage.

Lammers died in 1986 at age 79. The archdiocese has no record of any complaints against him before yesterday's lawsuit, spokeswoman Cecelia Price said. She declined to comment on the lawsuit itself.

The lawsuit alleges that Lammers abused Richardson "on or after 1955," when she was a 10-year-old resident at "St. Thomas Home-St. Vincent Home-Our Lady's Home for the Infants."

The lawsuit does not say where she now lives. Her attorney, Victor Tackett Jr., did not return a phone message yesterday afternoon.

The allegation brings to 155 the number of lawsuits filed against the archdiocese since April, alleging sexual abuse by 23 priests and four other employees in the past 50 years - a time period when 458 diocesan priests and hundreds of other priests served in the diocese.

In language virtually identical to that of the other lawsuits, the complaint alleges that Lammers engaged in a pattern of sexual abuse and that the archdiocese failed to discipline him, report the abuse to authorities or warn those who came in contact with him. And as with the other suits, this lawsuit does not offer evidence of a pattern or a cover-up.

The lawsuit asks for damages for Richardson's pain and suffering. Claims made in filing a lawsuit give only one side of a case.

According to the archdiocese and the Encyclopedia of Louisville, the St. Thomas-St. Vincent Home in Anchorage was a different institution from Our Lady's Home for Infants on South Brook Street in Louisville, though both were Catholic homes serving children. St. Thomas-St. Vincent closed in the 1980s, and Our Lady's Home closed in 1990.

Lammers, a native of Louisville, was born in 1907 and ordained in 1932, according to the archdiocese. In 1955, Pope Pius XII named Lammers a monsignor, an honorary title given to priests for long and distinguished service.

In addition to being chaplain at St. Thomas-St. Vincent, Lammers lived there from 1939 until at least 1964, according to a profile published that year in The Courier-Journal. At the time, he was honored by the Catholic Orphans Society board for his "personal feeling and individual attention to every person."


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