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  4 New Suits Name Priests

By Stephanie Innes
Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)
October 5, 2003

Tucson diocese, L.A. archdiocese are defendants

The Catholic Diocese of Tucson is hit with four new lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by priests, and all were filed in California - signaling a possible trend in litigation over clergy abuse.

Legislators recently amended California's statute of limitations on child abuse cases, allowing victims to sue regardless of when the abuse occurred. The statute provided a one-year window for such lawsuits to be filed. The deadline for filing is Dec. 31. In Arizona, victims must prove they had repressed memory in order to file a civil suit in old abuse cases.

The four cases were filed Friday in Los Angeles and name both the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles as defendants. The suits name as molesters the Rev. Kevin Barmasse and the Rev. Robert Gluch.

Barmasse, whom the Tucson diocese accepted as a visiting priest in 1983 even though they knew about an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor had been made against him in Los Angeles, is no longer acting as a priest and lives in California.

Gluch died in 1993. Both Barmasse and Gluch were named on a list the local diocese made public last year of 25 clerics who have "credible accusations" of child sexual abuse against them.

Fred Allison, a spokesman for the Diocese of Tucson, said he has not yet seen the new lawsuits. They bring to 13 the number of pending legal actions the local diocese is facing over allegations of sexual abuse by clergy. The diocese last year reached an out-of-court settlement with 10 men for an amount estimated as high as $16 million.

Earlier this year, the diocese's insurance company paid $1.8 million to the families of five girls who say they were sexually abused by a Catholic schoolteacher in Yuma.

The men who filed the four lawsuits Friday, all as John Does, are all now in their 30s. They claim they were molested during the 1980s.

"We've got four more lawsuits if not more after this," said John Manly, an attorney based in Costa Mesa, Calif., who is working on the cases with lawyer Lynne M. Cadigan of Tucson. "What's interesting is that Southern California is a very popular destination for people from Tucson to escape the heat. Many perpetrators took kids on parish trips to molest them," Manly said.

"We certainly would bring to the attention of the attorneys that we've asked all the plaintiffs to come forward and we've been consistent in that so that they can receive the apology and assistance of the church in terms of getting therapy," Allison said. "It seems the reasons the attorneys are asking the victims to come forward are somewhat different."

 
 

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