Lawsuit: Molester Investigated Abuse
Another Priest under Fire

By Paul A. Long
The Kentucky Post [Covington KY]
Downloaded December 24, 2003

A Catholic priest who investigated allegations of sexually abusive priests in the Diocese of Covington is himself suspended from the priesthood for molesting young boys, according to a new complaint in a class-action lawsuit against the church.

Father Robert Klein investigated charges against Father Earl Bierman as early as 1961, and again in the late 1980s. But, according to the lawsuit, he told boys who had been sexually abused "not to let it happen again and to pray for Father Bierman."

"He took no further action on behalf of the diocese, thus participating in the cover-up of Bierman's conduct," attorneys Stanley Chesley and Robert Steinberg said in their latest motion, filed Monday in Boone Circuit Court.

Klein was suspended from the priesthood in 2002, the lawsuit says.

The allegation against Klein is one of several new complaints filed on behalf of seven additional class representatives in the class-action lawsuit. The accusations say that abusive priests, as well as other diocesan officials, not only knew about the abuse and did little to stop it, but actively covered it up.

The motion to add to the lawsuit comes after an original plaintiff settled with the diocese and made statements that he believed the class-action lawsuit was not the best way to handle the accusations.

It also increases the number of plaintiffs from five to 10, although none of them is identified.

"By doubling the original number of class representatives, plaintiffs wish to further demonstrate the widespread, long-term, continuous and very serious abuse of boys and girls by defendant's agents, which is deserving of class treatment," Chesley and Steinberg said.

The motion asks that Senior Judge John Potter of Jefferson County -- appointed Friday to take over the case after Boone Circuit Judge Jay Bamberger was recused -- allow the attorneys to substitute their original lawsuit, filed last year, with the new filing.

The class-action certification means that Chesley and Steinberg may represent all of those who say they were abused by Covington priests or other diocesan employees in the past 50 years, unless those people specifically say they don't want to be included in the suit. It is the first and so far only case in the history of the church's decade-long sex-abuse crisis in the United States that has been made a class-action.

Diocesan attorneys have strongly battled against such certification, and said Bamberger only did so because of his close friendship with Mark Modlin, a consultant working with Chesley and Steinberg. Bamberger stepped aside from the case after announcing that he was retiring.

The filing Monday adds a host of new accusations. Several of the named priests have been publicly identified in the past. All either have been suspended from the priesthood or are no longer with the diocese.

The new accusations, with fictitious names used to differentiate the plaintiffs:

Frank Foe, who now lives in Ohio, was 14 in 1964 when he was molested by Klein at Sacred Heart Parish in Bellevue. That occurred three years after Klein investigated accusations against Bierman at Newport Catholic High School and discovered a budding sex scandal.

According to court document filed in earlier cases, Klein found as many as 40 students at the high school who reported that they had been abused by up to six different priests. But Klein, then a teacher at Newport Catholic, didn't tell anyone of his findings. Indeed, Klein told then-Bishop Richard Ackerman only about Bierman -- now incarcerated at the Kentucky State Reformatory near LaGrange -- leaving out details of the other priests' involvement.

Frieda Foe, who lives in Northern Kentucky, was 10 years old in 1959 when Father James Kleman, a priest at Blessed Sacrament Church in Ft. Mitchell, began abusing her. Kleman also started abusing the woman's older brother, who is now dead, when he was 12, the lawsuit says.

George Goe, an attorney in Northern Kentucky, was 7 and an altar boy at Mary Queen of Heaven Parish in Erlanger when Father Paul Ciangetti began abusing him, the lawsuit says.

"Ciangetti's abuse of (Goe) often occurred on the school playground in full view of the nuns and lay teachers who were playground monitors," the lawsuit says.

"Nothing was done to stop Father Ciangetti's abuse. The abuse finally stopped when (Goe) reached the age of 13 and was physically strong enough to escape Father Ciangetti's restraint."

Ciangetti died in 1995. He was named in a lawsuit filed last year and settled earlier this year as an abuser of young boys.

Gloria Goe, who lives in Northern Kentucky, was 11 in 1963 and attended St. Aloysious Church in Covington when Father John Goeke began abusing her, the lawsuit says.

The diocese suspended Goeke after two women filed criminal charges against him in 1994, alleging that he abused them as children. Another woman filed a lawsuit against the Goeke and the diocese, saying Goeke initiated an affair with her when she went to him for counseling.

The criminal charges later were dropped after both women said they did not want to go forward with the case. The diocese settled the lawsuit.

Goeke was permanently suspended in 2002.

Howard Hoe, a businessman who lives in Northern Kentucky, was molested from 1967 through 1969, beginning when he was 12. Hoe also was an altar boy at Mary Queen of Heaven Church and abused by Ciangetti, the lawsuit says.

Harriet Hoe, who also lives in Northern Kentucky, was 15 and a member of a youth group at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington in 1971 when Goeke began to abuse her, the lawsuit says.


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