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  Man Files Suit against Diocese
Charges 2 Priests with Molestation

By Alan Cooper
Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)
August 27, 2003

A man has filed a $5 million suit against the Catholic Diocese of Richmond alleging that two priests sexually molested him in the 1960s.

The man, identified only as John Doe in papers filed this month in Richmond Circuit Court, alleged that the molestation occurred when he was an altar boy at St. James Catholic Church in Hopewell, starting in 1962, when he was about 10 years old.

One of his attorneys, Edward L. Weiner of Fairfax, said Doe is in his 50s and lives in the Richmond area.

Doe attended St. James Catholic School beginning in 1958, according to the suit. The school closed in 1992.

The suit alleges that two priests at the church, the Rev. Thomas M. Summers and the Rev. Andrew Roy, also known as Andres Rodriquez, assaulted him. Summers died in 1992 at age 73. Roy retired in 1981 and is living in Spain, according to a source associated with the diocese.

The Rev. Pasquale Apuzzo, diocesan spokesman, said the diocese "has never received any complaints against the two priests." He said he doesn't know John Doe's identity.

The suit alleges that Summers coerced Doe by threatening to remove him from his parents' home and to stop the church's support for his needy parents. It alleges that Summers used drugs and alcohol to incapacitate Doe, and that he raped and battered him.

Roy is accused in the suit of molesting Doe and taking photographs of him.

Summers, a native Richmonder, attended local Catholic schools. He was ordained in 1943 at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore and retired after 49 years as a priest.

He transferred from a West Virginia parish to St. James in January 1963 and from St. James to a Virginia Beach church two years later. He also served churches in Arlington County, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Lynchburg, Staunton, Suffolk, Powhatan County, Farmville and Roanoke. Summers died at his home in Richmond in March 1992 .

Roy was born in 1911 and was ordained a priest in 1936 in Los Angeles. In 1956, he came to the Diocese of Richmond as assistant pastor at St. James. After serving other parishes, he was reassigned as pastor of St. James in 1970. He also served churches in Roanoke, Danville and Hurt.

About two weeks ago during Mass at St. James, fliers were placed on cars in the church parking lot, Apuzzo said. The flier said the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests was seeking "information about any questionable conduct of Father Thomas Summers and Father Andrew Roy."

A phone number and e-mail address for Annette Dickerson, SNAP's contact person in Norfolk, was listed. Dickerson did not return a phone call or respond to an e-mail yesterday.

The source associated with the diocese said the priests were at St. James between 1958 and 1965 but not at the same time.

Another attorney for Doe, Fran-Linda Tannenbaum, said the times mentioned in the suit are based on diocesan records at Catholic University and the recollection of Doe.

The suit alleges that the Most Rev. John J. Russell (the predecessor to the Most Rev. Walter F. Sullivan as bishop of the diocese) and other diocesan officials failed to properly supervise Summers and Roy. Russell died in 1993 at age 95.

According to the suit, prior to 2002 Doe had not understood "that the problems he was experiencing, both emotional and physical, were the direct result of the sexual assault."

Weiner said the suit stemmed from recent counseling of Doe and the fact that other victims and alleged victims in other cases had come forward.

A recent Virginia law allows a person alleging sexual abuse to file suit within two years of "when the fact of the injury and its causal connection to the sexual abuse is first communicated to the person by a licensed physician, psychologist, or clinical psychologist."

 
 

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