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  Two More Allege Abuse by Priest/ They Came Forward after Lawsuit Charging Misconduct Was Filed

By Alan Cooper
Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)
December 13, 2003

Two more men have come forward in response to a suit alleging sexual misconduct by a Catholic priest who died in Richmond in 1992, according to attorneys who filed the suit in August.

The attorneys, Edward L. Weiner and Fran-Linda Tannenbaum of Fairfax, filed the suit on behalf of a plaintiff identified only as John Doe, who they said is in his 50s and lives in the Richmond area.

The suit alleges the Rev. Thomas Summers and the Rev. Andrew Roy, also known as Andres Rodriquez, molested the man in the 1960s when he was an altar boy at St. James Catholic Church and attended St. James Catholic School in Hopewell. The school closed in 1992.

Summers died in 1992 at age 73 and Roy retired in 1981 and lives in Spain. Roy is 92 and has Alzheimer's disease, according to William F. Etherington, an attorney representing the Catholic Diocese of Richmond in the case.

Etherington and other officials in the diocese have said they were unaware of any complaints against either priest until the Doe suit was filed.

No legal action has been taken on behalf of the two men who came forward after the Doe suit was filed. The men allege that Summers molested them in parishes other than St. James, Tannenbaum said.

Weiner and Tannenbaum said they believe the personnel records of the priests will show that they were moved from parishes because of allegations of sexual abuse.

The attorneys appeared before Richmond Circuit Judge Randall G. Johnson yesterday on Etherington's motion to dismiss the case against the diocese.

Although the priests could be held liable for their misconduct, any effort to establish a theory of liability against the diocese would violate the First Amendment's guarantee of the free exercise of religion, Etherington said.

The inquiry would involve matters of church government and doctrine, he contended.

Weiner responded that the state has an overriding interest in making sure that employers are not negligent in supervising the conduct of their employees with children.

Johnson agreed with Weiner and allowed the case to proceed.

Etherington said the diocese still does not know who Doe is and must be given his identity so that it can properly investigate the allegations.

Weiner acknowledged as much but said he wanted to make sure the privacy of Doe is protected during the investigation.

The attorneys agreed to draft an order telling anyone defense attorneys ask about Doe that any information about him should remain confidential.

The suit alleges that Doe had not understood that emotional and physical problems he had were the result of the abuse until 2002, when he received counseling.

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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