46 years after alleged abuse, lawsuit against Catholic Church settled



For more than four decades the woman known in court documents only as Jane Doe was silent about her claims that she was sexually assaulted by her priest.

While Doe pursued her career and marriage, the target of her allegations, Father Bede Mitchel, continued to teach and work in the Catholic church and maintained a good reputation, according to one church official.

Even after her mental and physical state deteriorated to the point where she could no longer perform her work duties, the woman remained quiet about her childhood abuse. Her husband, John Doe, filed a lawsuit on her behalf in November, court documents show.

The court approved a settlement for an undisclosed amount in the lawsuit between the Does, the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth and Subiaco Abbey in Subiaco, Ark., last week. The abuse began in 1969 when Jane Doe was 8 and continued for one or two years, according to the family’s attorney, Tahira Khan Merritt.

Mitchel, who died in 1982, was a Benedictine cleric from Subiaco Abbey. From 1969 to 1975, he was assigned to the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Muenster as an assistant pastor and to the St. Peter Parish in Lindsay, both in Cooke County, north of Fort Worth.

Mitchel eventually returned to the Subiaco Abbey.

“Victims like Jane Doe do not bring these cases for any reason other than to be heard, to be healed and to find out what church officials knew about their perpetrator and when they knew it,” said Merritt, who has represented more than 100 clergy abuse victims during her career.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.