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  $20 Million Lawsuit Filed against Diocese Woman Also Names Bishop James Moynihan and the Rev. William Lorenz in Suit

By Mike McAndrew
Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY)
September 5, 2002

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse was sued for $20 million Wednesday by a woman whom a priest has publicly admitted having a sexual relationship with 30 years ago when she was an Oswego Catholic High student.

Also named in the suit are the Rev. William Lorenz and Bishop James Moynihan. Lorenz resigned in June as pastor at St. Joseph Church in Oneida after disclosing his relationship with Victoria Love to his parish.

Love, 48, of Rochester, who received a $17,710 settlement from the diocese in 1993, is the fifth person this year to sue the diocese over alleged sexual abuse by a priest.

"She was married five times," said her lawyer Frank Policelli of Utica. "She can't maintain relationships. She can't trust. She's suffered throughout her life because of this abuse."

Policelli, who is representing plaintiffs in suits against two other priests in the diocese, filed the suit for Love in state Supreme Court in Onondaga County.

Diocesan spokeswoman Danielle Cummings said the diocese had not been served with the suit Wednesday so she was unable to comment on it.

In legal papers, diocesan lawyers have argued that the other clergy abuse suits Policelli has filed should be dismissed because the alleged offenses occurred beyond the state's statute of limitations.

Love's suit claims Lorenz was a guidance counselor at the former Oswego Catholic High School in 1970 when he began a decade-long sexual relationship with Love, who was then known as Victoria Vinlemore. Love alleged she was a minor when she went to Lorenz to talk about abuse by a foster parent. Instead of counseling her, the suit alleges, he got her drunk and had sexual relations with her. They continued to have sexual relations in his car and in a church rectory until the late 1970s, the suit claims.

The suit alleges the defendants conspired to conceal Lorenz's criminal sexual conduct, obstructed justice, and defrauded parishioners in a scheme to protect predatory priests from prosecution, accumulate charitable contributions and avoid public scandal.

Diocesan officials learned of Lorenz's relationship when Love contacted local church officials in 1993, according to Cummings. The diocese paid Love $17,710 for counseling, Cummings said, and sent Lorenz to St. Luke Institute, a psychiatric hospital in Maryland. Moynihan permitted Lorenz to resume parish work in 1995 in Oneida after experts at the hospital cleared him, Cummings said.

The bishop permanently barred Lorenz from any public ministry in June after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted a new national policy.

Love alleged in the suit that the diocese breached a 1993 settlement with her by allowing Lorenz to return to ministry and by failing to keep the agreement confidential. The settlement, in which Love released the diocese and Lorenz from liability, is void because it was obtained under false pretenses, Love alleged.

Contacted Wednesday, Love declined to comment. Lorenz could not be reached.

During his career, Lorenz also served at Our Lady of Lourdes, Utica; St. Bernard Church, Waterville; St. Mary Church, Hamilton; Notre Dame High School, Utica; St. Mary Church, Oswego; St. Peter Church, Utica; St. Andrew Church and St. James Church, both in Syracuse; and St. Patrick Church, Forestport.

 
 

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