Diocese Sued over Alleged Sexual Abuse

The News-Sentinel
November 13, 1991

A former local priest has been accused of having sexual relations with an underage boy over a three-year period.

A lawsuit filed yesterday in U.S. District Court asks for unspecified damages from the former priest, as well as from Bishop John D'Arcy and the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. The ex-priest, James Blume, served at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in New Haven and later at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and St. Andrew's and St. Hyacinth's Catholic churches.

Blume left the diocese in 1989 after the allegations surfaced. He now lives in Ohio and does not serve in a church.

According to the lawsuit, the alleged victim was a 14-year-old member of St. John's in 1982 during a time when Blume was a priest there.

In June 1982, "Blume coerced (the boy) . . . into performing non- consensual sexual acts with him," the lawsuit alleges.

In the summer of 1982, Blume was reassigned to assistant pastor of the Cathedral, where he managed to get the boy to serve as master of ceremonies for weddings.

Blume continued to have sex with the complainant on a regular basis through June 1985, when he told Blume he wanted to stop, according to the lawsuit.

The sex often occurred in the church, and Blume sometimes provided alcohol to the boy before sex, the lawsuit claims.

The priest "intentionally manipulated (the victim's) emotions in order to gain control over him," the lawsuit alleges.

In 1987, when the complainant was a student in a seminary in Boston, he told a priest about the incidents. That priest encouraged him to talk to D'Arcy.

In January 1989, the complainant told D'Arcy of the incidents. The lawsuit claims D'Arcy discouraged him from telling any- one outside the church about the alleged sexual abuse.

The diocese in January 1990 agreed to pay for therapy for the man, who was having emotional problems connected to the incidents, the lawsuit states.

But the diocese stopped paying for therapy in February 1991, after having paid less than $1,000. Meanwhile, the diocese has spent thousands of dollars on Blume's rehabilitation, the lawsuit claims.

The man is asking for an unspecified amount of money from Blume, D'Arcy and the diocese for sexual assault and battery, negligence, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and clergy malpractice.

D'Arcy was in Washington, D.C., today for a bishop's conference. A diocesan spokeswoman said there "would probably be no comment until the bishop and our lawyers get copies of the (law)suit."


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