Denver Archdiocese Facing More Sex Abuse Lawsuits

CBS 4 [Denver CO]
September 20, 2005

(AP) DENVER Three more sexual abuse lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Denver were to be filed Tuesday, including one that is the first to list allegations naming the late Rev. Leonard A. Abercrombie, the plaintiffs' attorney said.

In all, nine lawsuits this summer, including two of the three being filed Tuesday, have been announced against Harold Robert White, a former priest whom the archdiocese removed from public ministry in 1993. He left the priesthood last year. The archdiocese has declined to publicly discuss the reasons.

The new lawsuits were filed on behalf of Pat Hergenreter and a 52-year-old man identified as John Doe, said lawyer Jeffrey Herman. Hergenreter alleged White abused him numbers of times when White was assigned to a church in Sterling.

"John Doe" alleged White assaulted him over a four-month period. White rented a room to him in the rectory while White was assigned to a church in Minturn.

The third new lawsuit, filed by Roger Colburn, accused Abercrombie of sexually assaulting Colburn on a camping trip when Colburn was age 10 or 11. Colburn is among three men who told The Denver Post that Abercrombie had sexually abused them, beginning in the 1950s.

Abercrombie died in 1994 at the age of 73. The Los Angeles Archdiocese has said Abercrombie was accused twice of abusing minors in California.

The three new lawsuits each seek at least $10 million in compensatory damages.

Dioceses across the country have been rocked over the past several years by allegations that they merely shuffled priests accused of sexual abuse among parishes to hide problems.

In 1991, the Denver archdiocese became one of the first in the nation to develop an abuse policy requiring all allegations be reported immediately to law enforcement officials.

The archdiocese has said it takes sexual abuse allegations seriously but has declined to discuss White or Abercrombie in detail.


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