Rev. Gourley Asks Charges Be Dismissed
Documents state priest specifically denies abuse

By Tillie Fong
Rocky Mountain News
October 25, 1997

The Rev. Marshall Gourley denies molesting John Dean Ayon, according to court documents filed Friday seeking to dismiss a $20 million federal lawsuit against the popular Denver priest.

''Father Gourley specifically denies that he engaged in any sexual conduct, improper or otherwise, with (the) plaintiff and specifically denies any allegations of sexual abuse as they may be directed at him,'' say the documents filed at U.S. District Court in Denver.

Last month, Ayon sued Gourley, pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in northwest Denver, accusing the priest of sexually abusing him between June1981 and June 1984.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Denver and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput were also named as defendants for being negligent in not knowing or doing anything about Gourley, whom Ayon, 32, described as a ''sexual predator.''

Gregory Stutz, Ayon's Denver attorney, called the dismissal motions premature.

Earlier this month, Gourley was relieved of his duties as parish priest by Chaput, who said Gourley needs to concentrate on the suit.

Wednesday, the archdiocese and archbishop asked the court to dismiss the cases against them because the statute of limitations had expired.

The archdiocese also argued that there should be a separation between church and state, and that the court has no business deciding what the church should or should not have known or done.

Gourley also argued that the statute of limitations have run out on Ayon's claims, which the priest's attorneys described as ''vague'' and ''insolent.''

Stutz said the statute of limitations for sex-abuse cases is 15 years.

''It's not been past that when we filed,'' he said. ''It's very difficult for people to do that (report on sexual abuse)..''

Gourley and the archdiocese claim as invalid Ayon's contention that Ayon was unable to file suit earlier because he was ''disabled'' by the priest's alleged abuse.

Both noted that Ayon had gone to Harvard Law School, worked for two years as a tax specialist, sued his employer and filed for bankruptcy, all without any help from a legal guardian.

''The law does not allow Mr. Ayon to sit on his rights while he discharges all of his debt, sue an employer for the same or similar damages, and later, sue Father Gourley while claiming incompetence to perceive his alleged injuries and their cause after the statute of limitations has expired,'' Gourley's motion states.


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