Ten Join Lawsuit against Church
Others Claim Priest in Jeffersonville Sexually Abused Them
By Harold J. Adams
The Courier-Journal [Louisville, KY]
August 21, 2003
Ten more people have joined a lawsuit in which they claim they were sexually abused by a former priest at St. Augustine Catholic Elementary School and parish in Jeffersonville, raising the total to 21.
The new plaintiffs joined a suit filed in Clark Circuit Court last September by a woman identified in court files only as Jane Doe. They were added to the case in a court filing last Friday.
The suit names the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis and current Archbishop Daniel Buechlein as defendants.
It says the Rev. Albert Deery "engaged in a pattern of sexually abusing young women and men attending the school and parish" between 1948 and 1969. Deery died in 1972.
The complaint states that "the archdiocese and archbishop took no action to discipline or sanction Deery or to inform or warn the plaintiffs, their parents or other students and parents" despite employees of the archdiocese knowing of the priest's behavior.
Vicki Carmichael, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said yesterday that the number of plaintiffs might grow much larger.
"It looks like every class that went through there probably had victims," Carmichael said.
The plaintiffs have filed a petition asking the court to certify their complaint as a class action representing everyone who attended St. Augustine school and parish between1942 and 1972 "and who were subjected to tortuous and criminal actions" by Deery.
John "Jay" Mercer, an attorney representing the archdiocese, said yesterday "I certainly can't respond to ... what their speculation is" on the number of potential victims in the case.
Mercer said he will oppose certifying the case as a class action.
"Legally, I don't believe that it's appropriate for this type of action," he said, refusing to elaborate.
Lawyers for the archdiocese are questioning individual plaintiffs about specific allegations.
They also are asking each plaintiff what he or she knows about abuse others suffered and what they know to support the claim that diocesan employees and representatives knew what was happening.
Questionnaires returned by some of the earlier plaintiffs detail alleged abuse beginning when they were first-graders at St. Augustine and continuing until they left the school.
Plaintiff Ronald Meadows wrote of being pulled out of class or off the playground by Deery weekly when he was 6 to 10 years old.
He wrote that the abuse included mutual oral sex and fondling, along with anal sodomy.
"I eventually set the gym on fire in an effort to get thrown out of St. Augustine School," wrote Meadows.
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