Suit Charges Priest Abuse Led to Suicide

By Jim Suhr
Associated Press, carried in Seattle Post-Intelligencer [St. Louis MO]
June 11, 2003

ST. LOUIS -- The father of an ex-Marine found dead in a hotel room is suing a Roman Catholic priest and the Archdiocese of St. Louis, alleging his son killed himself after years of torment over childhood sexual abuse by the clergyman.

The wrongful-death lawsuit contends Christopher Klump, 30, died as "a direct result of the psychological, spiritual and emotional toll" of the alleged abuse in the 1980s.

"Christopher took his own life so that he could finally silence the demons that were unleashed by Father McGrath and harbored by the Catholic heirarchy," said Allen Klump, Christopher's father and the plaintiff in the lawsuit naming the Rev. Michael McGrath, the archdiocese and Archbishop Justin Rigali.

McGrath, 57, did not return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday.

Monsignor Richard Stika, speaking for the archdiocese, said McGrath was essentially suspended from the priesthood in 1997 after "allegations involving improper contact with minors." He said he had not read the lawsuit and could not immediately discuss it.

The Klumps approached the archdiocese last year about the alleged abuse, Stika said.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in St. Louis Circuit Court, alleged the abuse occurred when McGrath, as the family's pastor, took a then-preteen Christopher on outings billed as spiritual counseling.

The family's lawsuit, which seeks at least $25,000 in damages, follows a similar suit filed in April against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in which the parents of Richard Lukasiewicz Jr., 36, claim he hanged himself because of trauma following childhood sexual abuse by an unnamed friar.

Christopher Klump was divorced and had served six years in the Marines, then attended college in Arizona and Missouri. A death certificate listed his March 2 death as accidental, caused by "cocaine-induced agitated delirium."

His brother Jason Klump said Christopher Klump told him in 18 months prior to his death that "he could not come to terms with what had happened to him as a child."


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