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  Priest Fights Sex Offender Status
Attorney: Rev. Kuhn Wasn't Convicted of That, Shouldn't Be Compelled to Seek Treatment for It

By Tom Beyerlein
Dayton Daily News
January 1, 2005

Dayton — The attorney for disgraced Catholic priest Thomas Kuhn said Thursday he'll seek to set aside a judge's order that the Rev. Kuhn, who was convicted of 11 misdemeanors in June, undergo sex offender treatment.

Dayton attorney Roger Makley said he'll file court papers next week challenging a Dec. 16 order by Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Mary Katherine Huffman that Kuhn, 63, complete sex offender treatment at an Atlanta facility.

"There's no evidence in the record whatsoever that Father Kuhn was convicted of being a sex offender," Makley said.

Huffman also ordered that Kuhn, former pastor of St. Henry and Incarnation churches and former freshman basketball coach at Alter High School, finish writing letters of apology to those institutions and to his minor victims by Jan. 31. Makley said the letters are "in process" and will be done on time.

Huffman further ordered that Kuhn must not enter or be within 1,000 feet of a private or public school. The order came after Cincinnati's Elder High School reported that Kuhn showed up at the school in September. Classes were not in session that day because of teacher training, said Dan Andriacco, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Under conditions of Kuhn's five-year probation set in July, he is to stay away from minors and liquor establishments, and get alcohol and gambling treatment.

Kuhn is to appear before Huffman at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 13 for a probation status report. Huffman declined to comment on the case Thursday.

Kuhn pleaded no contest June 23 and was convicted of one count of public indecency and 10 counts of alcohol offenses related to minors.

In a letter to Huffman dated Wednesday, two support groups for clergy sex abuse victims called upon the judge to investigate Kuhn's compliance with his probation.

Mike Knellinger, chairman of Dayton Voice of the Faithful, said his group and the Survivors

Network of those Abused by Priests will carefully follow Kuhn's adherence to Huffman's new order. In Knellinger's view, Huffman seems to be "backpedalling" on enforcing the probation.

"(Kuhn's victims) are looking at a church that has yet to defrock him and now they're looking at a legal system that's letting him take forever to do a simple thing like writing a letter of apology," Knellinger said.

"How many more chances is he going to get?"

Kuhn is on administrative leave from the archdiocese because of a substantiated case of child sex abuse and could be permanently defrocked.

"We certainly would expect that Father Kuhn would meet each and every demand that was placed upon him by the court — and in a timely manner," Andriacco said. "Certainly, it's up to the court to decide whether he is in compliance and, if not, what sort of action to take."

In unrelated civil cases, an appeals court this week upheld the rulings in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court dismissing civil lawsuits against the archdiocese, Kuhn and another abusive priest, the Rev. Lawrence Strittmatter, because the statute of limitations on alleged acts of child abuse has run out.

"We're not going to take that as the final answer," said attorney Konrad Kircher of Mason, who represented purported victims in the civil lawsuits. "We fully intend to appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court."

He said the cases point to the need to change the statute of limitations because child victims of sex abuse often don't report their abuse for many years due to feelings of shame.

 
 

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