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  Archdiocese Asks Judge to Dismiss Abuse Lawsuit

By Smith Peter
Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
November 27, 2002

The Archdiocese of Louisville has asked a Jefferson circuit judge to dismiss a lawsuit against it that alleges abuse by the Rev. Robert Gray, citing the accuser's failure to respond to its request for more information.

Also yesterday, attorney William McMurry confirmed that he has dropped the accuser, James R. Sullivan Sr., as a client because of his lack of cooperation in the case.

Sullivan - who is the only person to have named Gray in a lawsuit alleging abuse - missed a deposition scheduled Monday by archdiocesan lawyers. He had been subpoenaed to appear, according to Brian Reynolds, chancellor and chief administrative officer for the Roman Catholic archdiocese.

The archdiocese filed a motion Nov. 15 asking Jefferson Circuit Judge Denise Clayton to issue a summary judgment dismissing the lawsuit.

"Mr. Sullivan filed a lawsuit against the archdiocese and has refused to answer any questions in either written form or in person," Reynolds said.

Sullivan, one of 196 people suing the archdiocese over alleged past sexual abuse by priests, could not be reached yesterday for comment. Messages left at telephone numbers provided earlier this year by McMurry were not returned.

Police this summer dropped an investigation of Sullivan's claims, calling them unsubstantiated and saying he failed to cooperate with the investigation.

The archdiocese restored Gray to ministry after police closed the case. Though officially retired, he works as a senior associate at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church.

Gray could not be reached yesterday. An outgoing telephone message at his number said he was away. But he has maintained his innocence, and the archdiocese has said it has no other accusations against him.

Reynolds said: "I've been confident all along that Father Gray had not abused a child. . . . This is the concern that I had from the beginning, that priests were being named for which there was no evidence brought forward."

In his lawsuit, filed May 23, Sullivan also accused retired priest Louis Miller of abuse. Miller faces dozens of other civil lawsuits, as well as criminal charges.

McMurry, who represents most of the plaintiffs who have sued the archdiocese since last spring, said yesterday that he withdrew from Sullivan's case last month.

McMurry nonetheless came to Monday's scheduled deposition to assist Sullivan but said Sullivan did not appear.

"He stumbled along the pathway to his commitment to move the case along," McMurry said. "It's perfectly understandable. These clients abhor having to sit down with their lawyer and focus on these painful issues."

But, he added, "I must move these cases forward with the complete cooperation of my clients."

 
 

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