Reno Priest Named in Two More Abuse Suits in Kentucky

Associated Press State & Local Wire
July 31, 2002

There are new allegations of sexual improprieties involving a Reno priest.

Two lawsuits alleging abuse in the 1960s by Monsignor Robert Bowling, pastor of St. Therese the Little Flower Church, have been filed by women against the Archdiocese of Louisville in Kentucky.

Wahseka Corbett Elliott and Luana Borders Hester accuse Bowling of inappropriate questions and improper touching while he was working at Holy Cross Church in Loretto, Ky.

The women are the seventh and eighth plaintiffs in lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Louisville to accuse Bowling of sexual misconduct. Only one plaintiff has alleged misconduct by the priest since he arrived in Reno in 1969.

Bowling is on voluntary leave from St. Therese, where he has been pastor since 1974. He has denied all accusations of abuse.

Elliott, 46, contends that in 1963 Bowling asked sexually explicit questions in the confessional and on another occasion "sexually abused, battered and molested" her. Hester, 56, contends that in 1960 and 1961, while she was a student at Holy Cross School, Bowling touched her breasts.

Reno Bishop Phillip Straling has formed a panel of lay people to advise him on sexual abuse cases and review the Bowling allegations.

With 13 lawsuits filed Tuesday, the Louisville archdiocese is a defendant in 169 legal claims filed since April alleging sexual abuse by eight priests and employees between the 1950s and 1980s.

Christine Filippis Clark of Reno filed a lawsuit claiming Bowling behaved inappropriately when she met with him in 1982 to discuss converting to Catholicism. She contends he 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.

Five other women claim Bowling sexually abused them 40 years ago while they were students at Holy Cross grade school, some in the confessional.

In a June interview, Bowling said the students came to confession in a group, and abuse would not have been possible with students, parents and nuns nearby.


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