Lawsuit Claims Catholic Priest Molested Boy over Six-Year Period

Associated Press State & Local Wire [Indianapolis]
March 10, 2004

A 17-year-old Greene County boy has claimed in a lawsuit that he was molested by a Roman Catholic priest repeatedly during a six-year period.

The lawsuit filed in Marion Superior Court by the boy's mother against the Rev. Jonathan L. Stewart and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis accuses Stewart of harming the boy sexually from the time he was 7 up until he was 13.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Borcherts said Wednesday that Stewart has been on leave from all public ministry since the allegations arose in 2001.

Church officials, however, did not know about allegations that the boy had been abused by Stewart, 40, from 1993 until 1999.

"This is the first we have heard of abuse occurring in 1999. Our records indicate the last incident of sexual abuse occurred in 1993," Borcherts said.

Stewart has denied the allegations to church officials, an archdiocese statement said.

Stewart could not be located Wednesday for comment. The lawsuit said his last known address was in the southeastern Indiana town of Oldenburg, but there was no home telephone listing for him in that area.

Eric A. Koch, a Bloomington attorney representing the mother and son, said the abuse occurred in Bloomfield, a town about 25 miles west of Bloomington.

After being ordained in 1991, Stewart was assigned to religious posts in Indianapolis and the communities of Milan, Floyds Knobs and Enochsburg.

The lawsuit said the boy was abused on "several occasions" over the six years and that it caused the boy severe mental anguish and a loss of faith in God.

Borcherts said that Stewart was one of 20 priests and 12 lay people working for the archdiocese since 1950 who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors.


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