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  Cases Affecting the Church

Dallas Morning News
May 18, 2003

The Catholic Diocese of Dallas says that by year's end, it hopes to have settled most claims that it failed to supervise or covered up for the following priests and other employees. Defense attorney Randy Mathis estimates that the diocese and its insurers have paid about $ 38 million in settlements, the bulk of them with victims of former priest Rudy Kos. Here is a list of pending and recently settled cases:

The Rev. Ramon Alvarez - The diocese has rejected compensation demands from a Houston-area man, who accused Father Alvarez of groping and propositioning him during a blessing. Such adult-abuse claims are "an entirely different situation" from child-molestation allegations, Mr. Mathis, the diocesan attorney, said. The accuser's attorney has said she might sue. Father Alvarez remains on duty as head pastor of the Dallas cathedral. Diocesan officials say he has acknowledged "crossing boundaries" with his accuser but denies abuse.

The Rev. Thomas Behnke - A Dallas-area man filed suit last fall against the diocese, where Father Behnke served in the 1970s and 1980s. The suit also named his religious order, the Discalced Carmelite Friars. The plaintiff says he was abused from 1978 to 1980, when he was a boy and the priest was stationed at St. Mary of Carmel in Oak Cliff. Father Behnke, who is retired, has denied the allegation in a court filing. He lives in Jemez Springs, N.M., at a facility run by another religious order, the Servants of the Paraclete. It provides a home for priests who have been implicated in sexual abuse or have other problems that disqualify them from ministry. The Dallas Diocese says it did not send Father Behnke to Jemez Springs and does not know why he is living there. An attorney for the Carmelites declined to comment.

The Rev. Michael T. Flanagan - No lawsuits have been filed, but two men have asked the diocese to compensate them for abuse they suffered as boys. One such claim recently was settled. A third man has reported abuse but made no demands. Father Flanagan was suspended last year after the first man came forward. He has not responded publicly to the allegations. Dallas Bishop Charles Grahmann had him retire in 1999 after learning that he previously had been arrested on public lewdness charges involving adults.

The Rev. Patrick J. Lynch - The lone lawsuit naming him has just been settled, while two previous claims from former altar boys resulted in out-of-court deals. Others have alleged abuse without seeking compensation. Father Lynch has been living in his native Ireland and in England. He faces no criminal charges. He has not responded publicly to the allegations but has privately denied wrongdoing, associates say. Diocesan officials first documented his sexual misconduct in 1966 and have apologized. Bishop Grahmann has suspended Father Lynch from ministry but not sought to remove him from the priesthood.

Rudy Kos - One lawsuit is pending, and another has just been settled. More than a dozen victims settled previously. Mr. Kos is serving a life term in prison for abusing boys. The Vatican removed him from the priesthood at Bishop Grahmann's request.

Julio A. Marcos - Lawsuits cite the layman's abuse of several girls at St. Pius X Catholic Church's day care center, for which he is serving a life sentence in prison. Mr. Mathis said parish officials, not diocesan leaders, supervised Mr. Marcos. There were no warning signs of abuse before victims spoke up, he said. Plaintiffs' attorneys say management knew the employee had abused drugs and attempted suicide.

The Rev. Emeh "Anthony" Nwaogu - One suit is pending, from a Dallas girl he abused in 1999. Father Nwaogu was convicted in that case and sentenced to five years in prison; he could be paroled in December and faces deportation to his native Nigeria. Bishop Grahmann has suspended him but not sought to remove him from the priesthood.

The Rev. Kenneth Roberts - Two brothers have litigation pending. They are from the St. Louis area, where the Dallas Diocese sent Father Roberts in the late 1960s after concluding that he had abused a boy here. Another claim, from a Dallas-area man who did not file suit, was settled recently. Earlier, at least three other men were compensated. All allege child abuse except one, a young cleric who said he was abused as a young adult when he consulted Father Roberts about entering the priesthood. A spokeswoman has said Father Roberts denies some charges and can't respond to others, because they date to a time when he suffered alcohol-related blackouts. Medical records show that he has acknowledged at least one incident of abuse; he has not been criminally charged. Father Roberts is now affiliated with Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center in the Cincinnati suburb of Norwood, where officials say he helps with nonministerial tasks. Bishop Grahmann has suspended him from ministry but not sought to remove him from the priesthood.

SOURCES: Catholic Diocese of Dallas; plaintiffs' attorneys; court records; Dallas Morning News research

 
 

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