5 Join Abuse Suit; Priest, Nun, Coach Named

By Gregory A. Hall
The Courier-Journal [Louisville KY]
Downloaded August 11, 2004

Five plaintiffs filed yesterday to join a lawsuit against the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, alleging abuse by a priest, a nun and a coach in the 1950s and 1960s.

The latest filing brings the number of people who have sued the Nelson County-based order to 29 since last month.

In yesterday's filing, the plaintiffs allege that they were abused at the St. Thomas-St.Vincent Orphanage and that the order was negligent in supervising the alleged abusers. The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth operated the orphanage for Catholic Charities, which is an agency of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville.

Previous plaintiffs in the suit also allege abuse dating to the 1930s and at schools.

Barbara Qualls, a spokeswoman for the order of nuns, said a response to the litigation will be filed this week.

Four new plaintiffs accuse the Rev. Herman J. Lammers of sexually abusing them.

Lammers, who died in 1986, has been accused by 23 of the plaintiffs. He became director of Catholic Charities and resident chaplain at the St. Thomas orphanage in 1939. The orphanage merged with the St. Vincent orphanage in 1952 at the St. Thomas site near Anchorage.

Leslie Van Arsdale, 49, accused Lammers of sexually abusing her on multiple occasions in the 1960s.

Kim Rankin, 46, accused Lammers of sexually abusing her multiple times in the 1960s. Rankin said in the lawsuit that she told a woman, identified with a phonetic spelling, who was an agent or employee of the nuns, what Lammers had done.

Two sisters accuse Lammers and the late Sister Mary Ann Powers of sexual abuse or not reporting abuse.

Rose Ann Jones, 53, said that during the 1950s and 1960s that Lammers and Powers sexually abused her on multiple occasions.

The complaint describes one occasion when Jones attempted to resist an alleged attack by Lammers. She said she was held down by Powers and an unnamed nun.

A plaintiff identified by attorney William McMurry's office as Rose Anne Jones' sister, Ann Marie Jones, 54, accused Lammers of abusing her in the 1950s and 1960s.

The lawsuit said after the alleged attack, Ann Marie Jones told Powers, and the nun then refused to let Jones eat dinner with the other children because "she did not want her `telling lies about Father Lammers.'"

Plaintiff Stephen Vittitoe, 57, accused a basketball and softball coach identified as "Mr. Carney" of sexually abusing him in the 1950s.

Neither the Sisters of Charity nor the archdiocese has found any record of anyone by that name being involved with the orphanage, according to spokeswomen for both organizations.

Qualls has said the order has no record of allegations against any of the accused until they were named in a lawsuit.

McMurry filed the latest allegations as an amendment to a "master complaint" that he filed last week against the order.

McMurry, who represented 243 plaintiffs in a settlement with the Archdiocese of Louisville last year, first filed suit against the Sisters of Charity on July 15 and has been amending it since with new plaintiffs.

Two other plaintiffs have filed separate lawsuits.