Lawsuit: Teacher Suggested Student Play Trombone Nude
Details in New Lawsuit against Pueblo Catholic Diocese [Pueblo CO]
September 21, 2005

PUEBLO, Colo. -- Another lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pueblo was announced Wednesday accusing a former Catholic high school teacher of sexually assaulting a former student in the 1960s, the plaintiff's lawyer said.

Attorney Jeffrey Herman announced the lawsuit in Pueblo a day after three other clients filed lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Denver. Those suits alleged two former priests sexually abused three men starting in the 1960s, and that the archdiocese continued allowing the priests to practice though it knew of abuse allegations.

The lawsuit announced Wednesday was by Tom Monroe, 52, of Pueblo, and listed allegations against William Mueller, former band director at the now-closed Roncalli High School. Mueller was not named as a defendant.

The suit said Mueller told Monroe, then a sophomore, during private tutoring sessions in the school band room that Monroe would play trombone better in the nude. The suit alleges Mueller masturbated and fondled Monroe on about five occasions.

Monroe complained to guidance counselor Jose Montoya in 1968, but Mueller was not disciplined, Herman said. Mueller left Roncalli in 1971. Herman said he was told Montoya is now deceased.

There was no answer at a San Antonio number listed for Mueller.

The lawsuit, like the ones filed in Denver on Tuesday, seeks at least $10 million in damages.

The Marianists religious order also was listed as a defendant in the suit because Mueller was a member.

The Marianists have said Mueller spent time at a treatment center and left the order in 1986. Details of his treatment were not available.

Theresa Farley, director of human resources for the Pueblo Diocese, said no one could comment because they had not yet seen the lawsuit. She also declined comment on allegations that Monroe complained to Montoya, saying she did not have details. She confirmed Mueller was at Roncalli from 1966-71.

Three men have now announced lawsuits in Pueblo with allegations against Mueller. The lawsuits were the first the Marianists had heard of overtly sexual allegations against Mueller, said Diane Guerra, communications director for The Marianists Provice of the United States.

It was unclear what Montoya did after Monroe complained of being molested. Montoya, the guidance counselor, was not a Marianist, Guerra said.

On Tuesday, a lawsuit listing allegations against Mueller was announced in St. Louis. A 35-year-old man alleged Mueller sexually assaulted him at knifepoint when the man was a high school sophomore.

Meanwhile nine lawsuits have been filed against the Archdiocese of Denver by people alleging they were assaulted by Harold Robert White, a former priest whom the archdiocese removed from public ministry in 1993. One suit names the late Rev. Leonard A. Abercrombie.

The archdiocese has declined to comment on the lawsuits.

In 1991, the Denver archdiocese developed an abuse policy requiring all allegations be reported immediately to law enforcement officials. Since 1950, it has paid $997,730 in counseling and settlement costs to those reporting allegations.

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.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.