Priest Accused of Arranging Abortion Now Living in Canada, Attorney Says

Associated Press [New York NY]

April 24, 2003

A Catholic priest accused of arranging an abortion for a teenage girl he got pregnant in the 1960s is now married and living in Canada, said an attorney who filed the suit.

The Diocese of Covington had previously denied having any record of a priest named James Aloysius Brown, who an accuser had named as the priest who abused her beginning when she was about 13 years old.

Tim Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the diocese, said Thursday that a Rev. Joseph Browne was ordained as a priest in June 1956 in Covington and left the priesthood in 1970.

The suit, an amended version of an earlier lawsuit, was filed Tuesday against the Diocese of Covington in Boone County Circuit Court. It claims that 21 priests in the diocese abused dozens of children.

The teenage girl, now a Cincinnati businesswoman, was abused over a three-year period, said Stan Chesley, the Cincinnati attorney who filed the suit.

“It’s the same guy,” Chesley said Thursday.

Chesley said he has done about five months of research on the case, though he said none of the information on the woman has come from the diocese.

“My understanding is that (Brown) is alive and well and living in Canada,” Chesley said.

Fitzgerald couldn’t confirm where Brown was living.

The alleged abuse occurred “many times in various locations in northern Kentucky, southwestern Ohio and other geographic locations,” the suit said.

Brown sexually abused the girl in a motel at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, in cars “while parked or while driving” near the airport and while traveling to restaurants in Boone County, the suit said.

The woman was a resident of the Diocesan Children’s Home in Fort Mitchell from 1963 to 1966, when Brown was assigned to counsel children there, the suit said. Brown gave her alcohol and had sex with her in the boy’s infirmary at the children’s home, it said. The girl became pregnant, and “Father Brown arranged for an abortion to be performed” outside the United States,” the suit said.

Accusations that a priest arranged an abortion after getting a victim pregnant may be new to Kentucky, said Sue Archibald, president of The Linkup, an advocacy group for clergy abuse victims.

“There have been several cases like this” around the world, though Archibald could point to no similar one in Kentucky.

She said her group has had little contact with alleged victims from northern Kentucky.

The lawsuit names the Diocese of Covington and Bishop Roger Foys as defendants. To keep the potential class-action lawsuit in Boone County, Chesley presented three more people – including the Cincinnati woman – who say they were sexually abused by priests numerous times in Boone County.

The potential class includes more than 150 victims, the amended lawsuit says.

In other developments, a lawsuit was filed Wednesday against the Archdiocese of Louisville.

The suit alleges that the Rev. Donald Ryan sexually abused Raymond L. Wildberding, who served as an altar boy at St. Columba’s Church in Louisville in the “mid- to late-1960s,” the suit filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court said. More than 250 lawsuits have been filed against the archdiocese. They allege the archdiocese didn’t respond to the sexual abuse allegations.