More Lawsuits Claim Sexual Abuse at Pueblo School
Former Catholic Teacher Named in Suits
TheDenverChannel.com [Denver CO]
November 3, 2005
DENVER -- The Catholic Church and a religious order were hit with a new barrage of sex-assault allegations Thursday after five men filed suit alleging they were molested three decades ago by a Catholic school teacher and that church officials failed to protect them.
The lawsuits bring to eight the number of claims against the Diocese of Pueblo and The Marianist Province of the United States alleging that William Mueller sexually abused students at the now-closed Roncalli High School.
Mueller is not named as a defendant in the suits. He is a former member of the order and was once band director at the school.
The latest lawsuits claim that in the late 1960s or early 1970s, Mueller drugged the students with ether or chloroform and then sexually abused them. The suits claim Mueller asked the students to participate in science or psychology experiments or said he wanted to counsel them at the time the alleged abuse took place.
The suits, filed Wednesday in Pueblo County District Court and made available Thursday, allege the diocese and the Marianist order knew about the alleged abuse but took steps to conceal it to protect Mueller and themselves.
There was no answer at a San Antonio telephone listing for Mueller.
Monsignor Mark Plewka, a spokesman for the diocese, said church officials had checked their files from the time Mueller taught at Roncalli and "we can't find any records that the diocese knew" about the alleged abuses.
Diane Guerra, communications director for Marianists in St. Louis, said the order had not seen the lawsuits and had no immediate comment. The Marianists have confirmed Mueller was at Roncalli from 1966-71 and left the order in 1986.
Four of the plaintiffs are identified as "John Doe" and the other as Donald Jessik, 50, of Loveland. One of Jessik's attorneys, Jeffrey Herman of Miami, said Jessik wanted to be identified by name.
The suits seek unspecified damages.
Similar lawsuits have been filed in Missouri and Texas, where Mueller also taught.
The criminal investigation of Mueller was closed because the statute of limitations had expired.
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