Dallas Resources – February 1997
By Tracy Everbach
Some of the plaintiffs in a sexual-abuse lawsuit against a former Catholic priest should have their complaints thrown out because they were filed too late, a lawyer for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas argued in court Wednesday.
But lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that the statute of limitations does not apply.
"They knew what was happening to them, but they didn't know it was wrong and didn't know it would injure them for life," said plaintiffs' attorney Windle Turley. He represents 10 young men who say they were sexually abused and the parents of one man who committed suicide.
The plaintiffs are suing the Dallas Diocese, among other defendants, saying that it failed to properly supervise Rudolph "Rudy" Kos and that it concealed his and other priests' sexual abuse of children at Catholic churches between 1977 and 1992.e asserted.
When the suits were filed, personal-injury law required that negligence claims be made within two years of the injuries.
Mr. Kos is scheduled to be tried March 31 in a Dallas criminal court on second-degree felony charges of indecency with a child and sexual contact with a child. He was indicted on the charges last May - the first Dallas grand jury indictment on allegations of sexual abuse by a priest. The incidents, which involved two boys, ages 11 and 15, occurred in 1983 and 1984, according to the indictment.
Testimony in the lawsuit is scheduled to begin May 6. Jury selection is scheduled to begin April 25.
State District Judge Anne Ashby, who heard arguments from the defense and plaintiffs' lawyers in the civil case Wednesday, will decide before that case goes to trial whether to dismiss any of the plaintiffs' complaints.
The former priest, who lives in San Diego using the name Rudy Edward and works as a paralegal, has never responded to the lawsuit. On Wednesday, Judge Ashby ruled that four plaintiffs had won their claims against him because of his failure to respond.
The young men and their families are suing the diocese for tens of millions of dollars, alleging that it knew Mr. Kos sexually abused boys but failed to keep him away from young men. He served at All Saints Catholic Church in Dallas, St. Luke's Catholic Church in Irving and St. John Catholic Church in Ennis.
Witnesses in the case have testified in depositions that Mr. Kos had altar boys stay overnight with him at the church rectories and that he provided them with alcohol and drugs.
The arguments presented Wednesday mainly involved claims against the diocese, which is represented by attorney Randal Mathis. The plaintiffs had previously sued the National Conference of Bishops and the U.S. Catholic Conference but later dropped them from the case.
Mr. Mathis questioned whether some of the plaintiffs could make claims for incidents that occurred during adulthood. That would also affect the statute of limitations, he said.
"Is it child abuse, or is it consenting after age 18?" he asked.
The diocese has maintained that it was not negligent in its supervision of Mr. Kos because he deceived church officials in psychiatric and other evaluations.
"Kos is a serious, serious sociopath, and he's good at fooling people," Mr. Mathis said.
The plaintiffs' lawyers allege a massive cover-up by the diocese, which they argue was well aware of Mr. Kos' sexual disorder and abusive actions.
"He was a sexual predator with a long history of preying on little boys before he ever became a Catholic priest," said attorney Sylvia Demarest. "Clearly this was a man who, from Day One, was a risk to any minor boy he came in contact with."
Lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by two other former Dallas priests, Robert
J. Peebles Jr. and William J. Hughes, also are pending in Judge Ashby's
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