Abuse Suit against Dead Priest Dropped

By Eric Scott Campbell
The News and Tribune [Indiana]
June 3, 2006

A statute of limitations prompted a judge to exonerate the state's Catholic Church in several allegations of sexual abuse by a long-deceased priest.

On Friday, Daniel F. Donahue in Clark Circuit Court dismissed the claims of about a dozen plaintiffs — former students at St. Augustine's school in Jeffersonville — in a lawsuit filed in 2002. Indiana law mandates that molestation claims be filed before the alleged victim's 20th birthday, said plaintiffs' attorney Lonnie Cooper, and all the people in the case against Albert V. Deery are in their 40s or 50s.

The case had consisted mostly of attempts to sway the state legislature into giving church-abuse victims an exemption from the statute of limitations, but Cooper said those were blocked by the Speaker of the House.

"We'd also hoped for some compassion on the part of the Indianapolis Archdiocese, which never materialized," Cooper said.

Nevertheless, "we believe that the dismissal is an accurate reflection of the laws that exist in Indiana," he added. "We believe that this is as far as we can go with it. We ran out of doors to go through."

The Archdiocese — which had moved for a summary judgment weeks ago — and its lawyers could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

Asked about the plaintiffs' reaction, Cooper replied, "I don't think they have heard about it, but they're certainly prepared for it. We told them from the very beginning about the statute of limitations."

The plaintiffs were all 6-year-olds to early teenagers at the school in the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s, from which years the allegations stem, Cooper said. Deery died in 1972.


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