Colorado Man Accuses Lincoln Priest of Sex Abuse

Associated Press State & Local Wire
March 14, 2003

A second man has filed a federal lawsuit claiming a monsignor at a Catholic church school in York sexually abused him.

Randy Pfeifer of Colorado alleges in the lawsuit that Monsignor Jerome C. Murray physically and sexually molested him on repeated occasions from 1974 to 1976 while Pfeifer attended fifth through seventh grades at St. Joseph's Catholic Church grade school in York, 87 miles west of Omaha. The lawsuit said Murray was Pfeifer's teacher, administrator and religious and educational counselor.

Murray, St. Joseph's, and the Diocese of Lincoln were named as defendants.

A man who answered the telephone at Murray's home said Murray was not there and hung up.

Monsignor Timothy J. Thorburn with the Lincoln Diocese said church officials there were aware of the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday.

"We simply turned it over to our diocese counsel. Beyond that, I have no comment," Thorburn said.

The Rev. Leo Seiker at St. Joseph's said Friday he was not aware of the lawsuit, and would contact the church's attorney.

"The diocese will investigate any complaint," Seiker said.

William Walker of Tucson, Ariz., Pfeifer's attorney, also represents two other men suing Nebraska Catholic institutions over alleged sexual abuse, including Robert P. Goodman.

Goodman alleges in his lawsuit that Murray molested him in 1973 and 1974, when Goodman was a fifth-, sixth- and seventh-grader at St. Joseph's. Murray, St. Joseph's, and the Lincoln Diocese also are named as defendants in his lawsuit.

The other man, James Duffy, has sued Father Flanagan's Boys Home, the parent company of Girls and Boys Town, claiming a priest and a counselor separately abused him in the late 1970s.

All three men Walker represents claim in court documents that repressed memories of the abuse surfaced some time after February 2002 in the wake of nationwide publicity involving priests in sexual abuse cases.

Walker did not immediately return a telephone message left by The Associated Press at his Tucson office seeking comment.

In a separate lawsuit, a former Seward man who last year sued the Lutheran Church on claims he was molested as a child by a parochial-school teacher reached an out-of-court settlement with two of the defendants.

Mark Kraft, now of Colorado, settled last week with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and with the Synod's Nebraska District, Kraft's attorney, David Savitz of Denver, first told the Lincoln Journal Star.

Savitz said he could not discuss terms of the confidential settlement.

Kraft filed a $1 million federal lawsuit in October against the synod, the Nebraska District, the St. John Lutheran School and St. John Lutheran Church of Seward, former teacher Arlen Meyer, the estate of former principal David Mannigel and up to 1,000 unnamed, potential defendants.

The unnamed defendants are church officials or members who may have known or should have known of sexual abuse, but failed to warn or protect students, the lawsuit said. Meyer, the late Mannigel's estate, the school, church and those unnamed are still defendants in the case.

Omaha attorney Kermit Brashear, who represents the Missouri Synod and the Nebraska District, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.

Kraft alleged he was sexually abused by Meyer between 1976 and 1978, when Kraft was 12 to 14 years old.


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