Suit over Suicide Said First of Its Kind
Parents: Death Caused by Alleged Sex Abuse

By Marshall Allen
Star News [Pasadena CA]
April 23, 2003,1413,206~22097~1346136,00.html

Monrovia -- A suit filed by the parents of a child who allegedly committed suicide because of sexual abuse by a Catholic brother is the first of its kind in the country, according to attorneys.

In the lawsuit, filed against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Richard and Blanca Lukasiewicz of Monrovia allege their son, Richard Lukasiewicz Jr., was sexually abused from about 1979 to 1983, when he was a student at Don Bosco Technical Institute in Rosemead.

He was allegedly molested by a man known only as "Brother Mark,' a Roman Catholic brother who was a teacher and counselor at the school, according to the complaint. Like a priest, a brother takes the vows of chastity, obedience and poverty, but isn't ordained.

The alleged sexual abuse caused Lukasiewicz decades of "horror' according to the complaint, and led to his suicide in April 2002 at the age of 36.

Tod Tamberg, spokesman for the archdiocese, said he hadn't seen the lawsuit yet and had no comment on the matter. The Rev. Carmine Vairo, president of Don Bosco Technological Institute, was on a spiritual retreat and couldn't be reached for comment.

In most cases, it's difficult to establish the link between suicide and sexual abuse that occurred decades earlier, said Raymond Boucher, the family's attorney. But in this case, Lukasiewicz left a dairy that "chronicles the abuse, and the haunting effect of the abuse by Brother Mark,' he said.

The abuse caused Lukasiewicz years of severe depression, and stole his youth and self- esteem, the lawsuit said. He "fought valiantly' to cope with the depression, and visited counselors to try and overcome the damage caused by Brother Mark, according to the complaint.

"It's clear that this is a young man that wanted to live and struggled hard to live, but ultimately could not overcome the horrors, the guilt, the shame, the fear and the anxiety from the abuse,' Boucher said.

Lukasiewicz tried suicide several times, the lawsuit said. On April 18, 2002, after a suicide attempt, Lukasiewicz was admitted to Las Encinas Psychiatric Hospital in Pasadena, where, because of the negligence of the hospital's employees, he hanged himself with his belt, according to the complaint.

Hospital officials didn't return calls.

The hospital, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Don Bosco Technological Institute and Brother Mark are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

The complaint seeks damages for Richard and Blanca Lukasiewicz, for losses including the comfort, affection, moral and economic support of their son.

Boucher's firm has represented more than 200 people in lawsuits against the Catholic Church, he said.


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