Archdiocese Quietly Settled
Suits Going Back 20 Years, Files Show
By Andrew Wolfson
October 13, 2002
Since Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly was installed in 1982, the Archdiocese
of Louisville has reached confidential settlements with at least
13 people who claimed they were abused by a half-dozen priests,
according to records released late last week.
Four of the claims were paid to settle lawsuits filed from 1990
In a profile of Kelly published in The Courier-Journal in February
-- before the recent flood of litigation against the church -- he
said the archdiocese had largely avoided the priest-abuse scandal
that had rocked the church elsewhere.
"We have had some problems locally, but with one or two exceptions,
we've never had any kind of public lawsuits because we have, I think,
dealt fairly and honestly with the situations as they arise,"
Kelly said in a story marking his 20th anniversary as archbishop.
"I think our priests have been almost universally above reproach
William McMurry, the lead counsel for most of the 185 plaintiffs
who have pending sex-abuse lawsuits against the archdiocese, said
the settlement records released last week show Kelly "tried
to deceive his parishioners and the public at a time he knew this
was an enormous problem."
Counting another lawsuit that was dismissed, the records show that
five suits alleging sexual abuse were filed against the archdiocese
or its priests before this year.
Brian Reynolds, the archdiocese's chancellor and chief administrative
officer, responded to McMurry's comments on Kelly's behalf, saying
the archbishop may have understated the number of suits in his comments
earlier this year because he doesn't think of suits settled before
trial as "public lawsuits."
"I don't think he minimized the problem," Reynolds said.
"None of us in February, including Archbishop Kelly, had any
idea we would be facing 185 lawsuits six months later."
McMurry provided The CourierJournal with copies of the settlement
records, which were subpoenaed by the plaintiffs in the pending
lawsuits against the archdiocese and surrendered to their lawyers
THE SETTLEMENTS all note that the payments are not an admission
of guilt on the part of the priests or the archdiocese. They all
stipulate that the recipients not reveal that their claim was settled
or the terms.
McMurry said the claims paid in past years give credibility to the
allegations of the current plaintiffs. He also said the 13 claims
may reflect only a small portion of those settled by the archdiocese
over the past five decades because they represent only those that
officials could find in the chancery.
Citing attorney-client privilege, Reynolds, who was questioned in
a two-day deposition that ended on Friday, declined to say whether
he had asked the church's longtime law firm, Ford Klapheke & Meyer,
for copies of settlements it may have.
The plaintiffs' lawyers plan to ask Jefferson Circuit Court Judge
James Shake tomorrow to order the archdiocese to produce any such
Reynolds said that the archdiocese's practice is to retain all of
its settlement records and that it found no record of any claims
paid before 1982. "Mr. McMurry is just frustrated because he
expected there would be more," Reynolds said.
In most of the documents released last week the names of the purported
victims and the amount they were paid were removed by the archdiocese.
But the records shed light on allegations that previously surfaced,
as well as on some cases that had not.
The records show, for example, that the church paid a claim to settle
allegations against one priest -- the Rev. Thomas R. Clark -- who
is still active and hasn't been named in any lawsuit.
REYNOLDS SAID that Clark, who until recently was pastor at St. Timothy
Catholic Church -- as well as Our Lady Help of Christians and St.
Patrick in West Point -- was investigated and cleared by the LouisvilleJefferson
County police's Crimes Against Children Unit.
Based on that and a psychological assessment of Clark done for the
archdiocese, "We concluded that there was no way to substantiate
that any child sex abuse had taken place," Reynolds said.
He said the church offered the alleged victim a financial settlement
because of the "difficulties he was facing in his life"
and because Clark had cared for him for years after a juvenile court
judge placed him in Clark's custody.
Reynolds said that Clark is on a routine sabbatical studying Spanish
in Texas and that when he returns he will serve as pastor of two
parishes in Casey County.
Reynolds said he couldn't reach Clark yesterday and declined to
release his phone number without his consent; supervisors in the
Crimes Against Children Unit did not return phone calls.
The Rev. Joseph Scollard, who succeeded Clark at St. Timothy, said
he knew nothing about the allegation. The records don't identify
OTHER RECORDS released last week show that:
* The archdiocese paid undisclosed amounts to settle claims made
by two sisters of Robert W. Hack, who allege in a lawsuit filed
in May that he was abused by the Rev. Louis Miller at St. Athanasius
Church, where Miller served from 1961 to 1963. The sisters' claims
were against Miller.
* A written settlement between the archdiocese and Gregory C. Hall
and his parents did not include a promise that Kelly would remove
the Rev. Thomas Creagh from St. Albert the Great, where he was pastor
and allegedly abused Hall. Hall, 35, who sued the archdiocese in
May, alleged in that complaint that Kelly had reneged on a deal
to oust Creagh and move him away from children.
The settlement, struck in 1983, called for Creagh and the archdiocese
each to pay $10,000 to Hall's parents, Jerry and Patsy, to be held
in trust for Gregory. A release signed by him and his parents says
"no parties to this agreement are relying on any verbal terms
not contained therein."
But in a separate deposition taken on Monday, Jerry Hall said Kelly
promised he would remove Creagh from a "school environment."
Hall testified that Kelly told him he couldn't do that immediately
because he didn't have anyone to take Creagh's place, but Hall said
he thought it would be done "within six months." Instead,
Creagh remained at St. Albert for three years.
THE SENIOR Hall also alleged that Creagh admitted to him that he
had sexually abused his son.
Jerry Hall also said Kelly told him that Creagh had confessed, but
that the archbishop's "initial comment to me was that the easiest
way to remedy the situation was for me to leave the parish. . .
. I refused to do that."
The elder Hall testified that he felt he couldn't object to anyone
about Creagh remaining at St. Albert because the settlement required
the family to "never discuss the alleged tort with anyone."
Two of Hall's younger children followed Greg to St. Albert while
Creagh was still there.
"I felt like the archbishop had betrayed myself and Gregory
and . . . the other kids," Jerry Hall testified. "I don't
feel he had done what he said he would do, but I felt like my hands
Creagh resigned from Holy Family Catholic Church in May and was
placed on leave after Gregory Hall filed the first of four lawsuits
against the archdiocese accusing him of sexual abuse. He has since
been permanently removed from public ministry.
* A suit against Miller filed by his niece, Mary C. Miller, was
settled in June 2000 for $60,000. The archdiocese also agreed to
pay $82,661 to her lawyer in installments.
Mary C. Miller agreed to keep the payments and allegations secret,
and the archdiocese agreed to lend the Rev. Miller part of the money
because the charges, "whether true or false, if related to
the general public and members of the church, will have an adverse
affect on the perception of the church and its priests."
MARY MILLER filed another suit against the archdiocese in July,
alleging that it had concealed earlier allegations against her uncle.
Louis Miller, 71, has been accused of sexual abuse in 70 lawsuits
filed against the archdiocese, and faces felony charges in Oldham
and Jefferson counties. He retired after church officials received
a complaint against him in March.
* The archdiocese paid undisclosed sums to settle lawsuits filed
by both of the victims named in a 1988 indictment of the Rev. Daniel
C. Clark, who pleaded guilty to sodomy and sexual abuse.
Clark, who was permanently removed from ministry, is named in 17
pending lawsuits and has been indicted in Bullitt County for allegedly
abusing two boys between 1998 and May of this year. He has pleaded
* The archdiocese paid another claim to settle a lawsuit filed in
1990 by Mark Delmenhorst and his thenwife against Miller and other
defendants. In the suit, they alleged Delmenhorst was abused by
Miller at St. Elizabeth in 1977.
* The two most recently settled claims were signed on July 2 and
Aug. 7 this year. They stemmed from allegations against Miller when
he was pastor at St. Elizabeth of Hungary, from 1975 to 1990. No
other information is disclosed in the settlement documents.
* The archdiocese paid another claim in May 1997 to cover past medical
costs and 10 future counseling sessions for a man who claimed he
was victimized by the Rev. Dan Clark at St. John Vianney parish.
The accuser is not identified.
* It paid a claim of $10,500 to Robert Mattingly in 1995 to cover
counseling for three years at the old Our Lady of Peace hospital.
Mattingly had accused the Rev. Arthur L. Wood of molesting him at
the St. Polycarp Church rectory and at other locations.
MATTINGLY AGREED not to sue the archdiocese for any claim, but McMurry
said the release was invalid because the church had failed to disclose
previous sexual abuse by Wood, who died in 1983 at age 59. Wood
is accused of sexual abuse in 33 other lawsuits pending against
* At least $60,000 apparently was paid in 1992 to an unnamed person
who complained that he had been abused by the Rev. Joseph Stoltz,
then-pastor at St. Bernard Church. The amount of the payment isn't
disclosed, but another document released last week shows that an
insurance company paid the archdiocese $60,000 to settle a dispute
over whether the church had coverage for the claim naming Stoltz.
Stoltz, who is accused of sex abuse in one pending suit, was removed
as sacramental moderator at St. William parish in June after the
nation's bishops adopted a tougher policy on sex abuse. The archdiocese
disclosed then that Stoltz had been put on restricted ministry after
he was accused of sexual misconduct in 1990.