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  Two Brothers' Suit Says Priest, Now Dead, Abused Them in '60s

By Stephanie Innes
Arizona Daily Star
April 12, 2003

Two brothers who say a now-deceased priest molested them during the 1960s are suing the Catholic Diocese of Tucson.

The lawsuit marks the seventh civil action to be filed against the diocese since it reached an out-of-court settlement in January 2002 with 10 men who said they were abused by four members of the local clergy during the 1960s, '70s and '80s. The settlement amount is estimated at $14 million to $16 million.

Two brothers, under the pseudonyms James and John Doe, filed the action this week, alleging they were abused by the late Rev. Robert A. Gluch during the late 1960s when they were parishioners at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Miami, Ariz.

The Catholic Diocese of Tucson had no response to the lawsuit, filed Thursday in Pima County Superior Court.

The lawsuit says Gluch, who died in 1993, molested the two brothers while they were altar boys at the Miami parish. The brothers, both of whom say they had repressed memories of the abuse, say the molestations occurred in the sacristy after Mass, in the church rectory and in Gluch's car while Gluch was on church-related business.

The lawsuit says diocesan officials were on notice before Gluch arrived at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament that he had "propensities and a past history of committing sexual improprieties with boys that he came in contact with through the church."

Gluch is one of 25 clerics - 24 priests and one deacon - on a list, which the diocese has made public, of men with "credible accusations" of child sexual molestation against them.

Gluch was named in another lawsuit against the diocese in September by a former altar boy who said he was abused by Gluch when Gluch worked at St. Gregory Catholic Church in Phoenix. Gluch worked at St. Gregory's between 1964 and 1968 when churches in Phoenix were part of the Diocese of Tucson.

In a letter to parishioners and clergy last month, Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas made the unprecedented statement that diocese officials knew about past sexual abuse allegations yet apparently did not report the abuse to law enforcement, nor did they remove the clergymen from ministry.

"By the standards of the time, the individuals making these decisions believed they were acting in the best interests of the church and society," Kicanas wrote in the letter, titled, "Proceeding Honestly on Our Journey Towards Forgiveness." "Many health professionals believed that it was possible to treat successfully those who abused minors so that they could continue in ministry."

A lag time is permitted in civil suits related to old abuse cases because of a 1998 Arizona Supreme Court ruling that says the normal two-year statute of limitations for filing civil suits does not include any period when the victim is of "unsound mind." The ruling essentially removes time limits for suits by people who say repressed memory or experiences left them so disturbed they could not determine what had happened.

The Diocese of Tucson includes 350,000 Catholics and has 83 active priests.

 
 

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