Priest Accused of Molesting Boy
Man Says Former Evansville Clergyman Sexually Abused Him While in Hong Kong

Associated Press, carried in Indianapolis Star
September 1, 2005

EVANSVILLE, Ind. -- A Roman Catholic priest who once cared for ailing nuns in Evansville faces a lawsuit alleging he sexually abused a 10-year-old altar boy while serving in Hong Kong more than two decades ago.

The Rev. Thomas S. Cawley, a member of the Vincentian order, is accused of molesting the youth while assigned to missionary work in Hong Kong in 1979.

The alleged victim, Michael Johnson, Kansas, recognized Cawley during services at a church in Johnson County, Kan., where Cawley was assigned to the parish, said Rebecca Randles, an attorney for Johnson.

"Cawley told the plaintiff that the sexual abuse was a form of God's punishment that the young boy needed," according to the court filing.

The lawsuit also names the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong and the Congregation of the Mission, Midwest Province, commonly known as the Vincentians.

Because the order is based in St. Louis, the lawsuit was filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court, Randles said. The Vincentians have placed Cawley on leave from his duties.

Before being assigned to the Kansas parish, Cawley worked with Evansville's Daughters of Charity and cared for elderly and sick Evansville nuns during 2002 and 2003.

Randles said she could not discuss the damages her client seeks.

Johnson states in court documents that he was the sole altar boy during weekday Masses. After helping Cawley at St. Anne Church in Hong Kong, he alleges, the priest would sexually abuse him.

The abuse continued for two years until Johnson no longer served Mass, according to the filings.


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