Florida Man Sues Archdiocese, Claims That Priest Abused Him
Complaint Accuses Church Officials of Covering up Matter

By Gregory A. Hall
The Courier-Journal
Downloaded May 31, 2003

A 32-year-old Florida man filed suit yesterday against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville, alleging that the Rev. Joseph Herp abused him between 1980 and 1986, when the man was a child.

Andre Azerot of Fort Lauderdale claims the alleged abuse occurred when he was a parishioner or student at St. Ann Church, where Herp was assigned.

The complaint alleges that archdiocesan officials knew of sexual abuse by Herp and covered it up. Archdiocesan spokeswoman Cecelia Price declined to comment on the accusations, citing archdiocese policy.

Azerot's attorney, John Cox, said the abuse was reported to church officials at the time, but he was unaware who it was reported to.

Brian Reynolds, the archdiocese's chancellor and chief administrative officer, said that based on a review of records yesterday, "no one named Andre Azerot has ever contacted the archdiocese" complaining of abuse.

Azerot didn't know lawsuits had been filed against the archdiocese, alleging abuse by priests and others connected with the organization, until sometime in June 2002 when he was informed by relatives, according to Cox and the complaint.

Azerot's lawsuit is the fourth to accuse Herp among the 253 filed against the archdiocese since April 2002. Six of those suits have been settled.

Settlement negotiations for the cases filed as of mid-April are scheduled to begin Tuesday.

Plaintiffs had until yesterday to have a notice postmarked that they are opting out of the settlement talks and wish to proceed on their own against the archdiocese.

Williams McMurry, a lawyer for most of the plaintiffs in the lawsuits, said that as of yesterday one plaintiff, Kyle Burden, has opted out. McMurry, who is also acting as one of the attorneys involved in the negotiations, must be notified if a plaintiff chooses not to be represented in the talks.

McMurry said he could still receive notices next week that were postmarked yesterday.


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