New lawsuits hit ex-local priest

The Journal Gazette

Rosa Salter Rodriguez | The Journal Gazette

A Roman Catholic priest sued in Allen County in 2007 by a man who claimed he’d been sexually abused as a child is at the center of two new lawsuits in Minnesota, where attorneys allege he has left a trail of abuse around the nation.

Gerald Funcheon, 76, was ordained in the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese in 1965 and belonged to the Crosier Fathers & Brothers, a religious order headquartered in Phoenix. He left that order in 1987 and has not served as a priest since 1992, when he was determined “unassignable” and was removed from ministry by the Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana.

The Allen County suit, which was dismissed, involved alleged abuse at a Catholic Youth Organization camp at Lake Wawasee in 1965.

Funcheon has faced sexual abuse lawsuits in Minnesota, Hawaii and California beginning in 2003. He was named in 2009 in a $1.7 million settlement involving four Crosier priests with a total of nine victims, three of whom had accused Funcheon. In an $18 million settlement in 2013 against the Irish Christian Brothers, seven of that case’s 400 plaintiffs had accused Funcheon. The order is affiliated with schools where he taught.

Now, Funcheon stands accused of sexually abusing four boys, ages 11 to 14, from 1970 to 1974 while they attended St. Odilia Catholic Church and School in Shoreview, Minnesota; and of abusing a 14-year-old boy in 1984 on a camping trip while Funcheon served at Palma High School in Salinas, California, one site of abuse alleged in the Irish Christian Brothers suit.

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