Man Says 2 Priests Abused Him As a Boy

By Fred Kelly
Indianapolis Star
July 27, 2004

A man is suing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis, alleging that two priests sexually abused him when he was a child.

He is the second person to file a lawsuit against the archdiocese since it reported in February that 20 priests and 12 laypersons had been credibly accused of sexual misconduct from 1950 to 2002.

The lawsuit filed Monday in Marion Superior Court claims that the Rev. Carlton J. Beever and former Rev. Thomas J. Amsden sexually abused the plaintiff when he was an altar boy at St. Mary Parish in Greensburg between 1972 and 1977.

The alleged victim, identified only as Joseph S. S. in court records, suffered psychological damage and emotional distress, and underwent therapy, the suit says. The only other information the lawsuit divulges about him is that he was born in 1967.

Beever, 56, is pastor of St. Philip Neri Catholic Church, a congregation of 355 households on Indianapolis' Eastside.

The archdiocese placed Beever on administrative leave Monday and opened an internal investigation, said Susan Borcherts, archdiocese spokeswoman.

Amsden, 62, resigned as pastor of St. Mary in 1995 to get married, Borcherts said.

Beever and Amsden deny the claims, the archdiocese said in a prepared statement. Neither could be reached for comment.

Church officials learned about the accusations two years ago when the alleged victim wrote a letter outlining the allegations, Borcherts said. They did not investigate because he refused to talk to them, she said.

A parish of 1,250 households, St. Mary is in Decatur County, about 50 miles southeast of Indianapolis. It operates a school with 269 students in preschool through sixth grade.

The lawsuit names the church, school, archdiocese, Amsden and Beever as defendants.

The alleged victim was an altar boy at the church and attended the school, the suit says.

Church records show Amsden was associate pastor at the church from 1973 to 1977. Beever was an associate pastor there from 1977 to 1981.

Beever, ordained in 1974, was the alleged victim's physical education teacher, the suit says. It alleges Beever repeatedly sexually abused his student and that the church was aware of or had reason to suspect misconduct.

The alleged victim's attorney, Eric Koch, could not be reached for comment.

Borcherts would not answer questions about claims in the suit.

An archdiocese report released earlier this year said the 20 priests accused of abuse have all resigned, died or been replaced.

Officials are now actively encouraging parishioners to report past abuse, Borcherts said.



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