Group Collects Info on Former Vigo Priest
Previous St. Patrick's Pastor Focus of Several Child Molestation Lawsuits
By Stephanie Salter
Tribune-Star [Terre Haut IN]
September 26, 2005
The former Rev. Harry Monroe hasn't served in St. Patrick's parish in Terre Haute since 1981, but members of a national advocacy group for the victims of abuse by priests went house-to-house in the neighborhood Friday in hopes of refreshing people's memory about the one-time youth minister.
Their primary aim is to gather as much information as possible about Monroe, who is a defendant in two lawsuits recently filed in Marion Superior Court in Indianapolis on behalf of two of his alleged victims.
The Archdiocese of Indianapolis is the other defendant.
According to an archdiocesean spokeswoman, Monroe's priestly faculties were revoked in 1984 because of sexual misconduct allegations, and he appears to have had no contact with its office since 1991.
"Since the first lawsuit was filed [Sept. 9], we've been trying to find him," said Susan Borcherts of the archdiocese communications office.
She said that church officials think Monroe may be in Nashville, Tenn., and she expected the archdiocese's legal counsel would be able to find him.
It is the unknown whereabouts of the former priest that most concerns David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
"He could literally be tutoring in a school this morning, coaching soccer this afternoon and baby-sitting this evening," said Clohessy, standing across the street Friday from St. Patrick's church and school at Poplar and 19th streets.
Clohessy had driven from SNAP's headquarters in St. Louis to publicly call for a more aggressive effort by Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein and the archdiocese to find Monroe and to notify any and all residents of areas in which he may have lived and worked since leaving church ministry.
"If I have dangerous toxic chemicals that I've released, I have an obligation to warn people about the potency of those harmful chemicals," said Clohessy.
While he lauded Buechlein for sending a letter that was to be read aloud in all parishes where Monroe served from the mid-1970s to early 1980s, Clohessy said the letter did not urge people to contact local law enforcement but the archdiocese, which is a co-defendant in the suits.
St. Paul, Minn., attorney Patrick Noaker filed both suits on behalf of now-grown "John Does" who say they were sexually abused by Monroe in Indianapolis before he was transferred in 1979 to St. Patrick's. One man attended St. Catherine parish, the other St. Andrew.
Most of the counts alleged in the suits apply to both Monroe and the archdiocese, said Noaker. The counts include sexual abuse and negligence.
"They knew that Father Monroe was molesting children in different parishes, and yet they knowingly placed children in jeopardy" by moving Monroe from Indianapolis to Terre Haute and, finally, to Tell City, Noaker said.
Borcherts, who was reached via cell phone because archdiocese offices are closed on Fridays, said that Monroe was ordained in 1974 but she was not certain where nor did she know his age. She said the bishop did not intend to bypass law enforcement agencies by urging parishioners to contact the archdiocese. Church policy is to report such allegations to police and other proper authorities as soon as parish officials or the archdiocese learn of them, she said.
--The Archdiocese of Indianapolis can be reached at www.archindy.org or Monday through Thursday by calling (317) 236-1400.
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