4 New Sex-Abuse Lawsuits Filed in Calif. Against Tucson Diocese
The Four Men Who Filed the Suits Say They Were Abused by the Rev. Kevin Barmasse, and 1 by the Rev. Robert Gluch
By Eric Sagara
October 6, 2003
Four new lawsuits have been filed in California against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson alleging that two priests sexually molested four altar boys during the 1980s.
Also named in the lawsuit, filed Friday by four men in their mid-30s, is the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
The men identified the Rev. Kevin Barmasse and the Rev. Robert Gluch as the priests who molested them.
Three of the victims are from Tucson and the fourth is from Sierra Vista, said Lynne Cadigan, a local attorney representing the four men.
The priests molested their victims during church-sponsored trips to California, she said.
All four men were molested by Barmasse, who is no longer an active priest and is living in California, and one of the victims also was molested by Gluch, who died in 1993, Cadigan said.
Because the men had been the focus of allegations, the diocese had already identified them as possible child abusers, said Fred Allison, a spokesman for the Diocese of Tucson.
However, the diocese has not seen the lawsuits, which were filed in California because the molestations are alleged to have taken place there, Allison said.
California state law has opened a one-year window of opportunity during which adult abuse victims can file lawsuits. The deadline is Dec. 31.
In Arizona, a victim cannot file a lawsuit after the age of 20 years unless the victim has had repressed memories.
"There could be a lot of victims here in Tucson who could file a lawsuit in California," Cadigan said.
She alleges that church authorities here knew that Barmasse and Gluch had histories of molesting children.
Barmasse was arrested in California in 1983 for attempted child molestation, Cadigan said.
"Gluch was accepted by the Diocese of Tucson after he molested a lot of boys in Phoenix," she said.
Those allegations could not be confirmed last night. Allison denied the church knew about abuse alleged to have occurred before the priests came to the Tucson Diocese.
"We have no information of any arrests, and we would welcome any information concerning an arrest," Allison said.
Barmasse, who left Tucson in 1991, was classified as a visiting priest and was never actually part of the Diocese of Tucson, he said.
"He abandoned his parish," Allison said. "To my knowledge, the Diocese of Tucson has never heard from him again and has no idea of his whereabouts."
"The Southern California Diocese and Tucson would trade priests back and forth all the time, and they would take problem priests from one another," Cadigan said. "What the Diocese of Tucson needs to do, if they didn't know that Barmasse was a problem, is go after Los Angeles. If they did know, then they're responsible."
Allison said local church authorities were aware of no such trades.
"The only priest we are aware of from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is the priest we identified last March," he said referring to Barmasse.
The Los Angeles Archdiocese, which has a $1 billion insurance policy covering molestation lawsuits, is in the process of settling the four new suits, Cadigan said.
"There's been a wave across the country of dioceses wanting to put this behind them and settling (molestation lawsuits)," she said.
Allison could not say how the four California lawsuits would affect the Tucson Diocese.
"The principal focus of the Diocese of Tucson is healing the suffering of the victims and moving forward with policies and procedures that to the best of our ability will create safe environments for children," Allison said.
"We urge anyone who has experienced abuse by anyone working for the church to come forward at this time so that a report can be made immediately to law enforcement."
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