Lawyer Says Archdiocese Committed Fraud by Moving Priest
By Ken Kusmer
The Associated Press, carried in News-Sentinel
June 5, 2006
INDIANAPOLIS - An attorney for nine men suing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis said it committed fraud by shuffling a sexually abusive ex-priest from parish to parish and that the statute of limitations won't prevent the case from going forward.
Three days after a southern Indiana judge threw out a similar case because the statute of limitations had expired, attorney Patrick Noaker on Monday filed a ninth complaint against the archdiocese and ex-priest Harry Monroe in Marion County Superior Court.
Noaker, during a sidewalk news conference outside the court, also alleged for the first time that Monroe, who's believed to be living in the Nashville, Tenn., area, had plied some of his underage victims, including the accuser in the latest case, with marijuana.
"Father Monroe gave this child marijuana, smoked marijuana with him," said Noaker, of St. Paul, Minn.
Monroe is also accused of plying his victims with alcohol.
The latest accuser was a 14-year-old altar boy at St. Mary Church in the Ohio River town of Cannelton at the time of the alleged abuse in 1982 or 1983, Noaker said. He has been forced by the emotional pain of the abuse to move out of state, isolating him from his family and friends, Noaker said. The plaintiff, identified only as John Doe, also needs psychiatric help and has had trouble holding a job, the attorney said.
"The young man needs some assistance, but he also wants accountability," Noaker said.
The archdiocese stripped Monroe of his ministry in 1984. It does not comment on pending lawsuits but encourages people to come forward if they have been a victim of sexual misconduct by church personnel, spokesman Greg Otolski said.
Clark Circuit Court Judge Daniel F. Donahue, in a ruling Friday, dismissed a lawsuit brought by 23 plaintiffs who claimed to have been molested by the late Rev. Albert Deery while they attended Jeffersonville's St. Augustine Elementary School during the 1950s and 1960s. Donahue said Indiana's statute of limitations required the plaintiffs to have sued within two years of their 21st birthdays, but none did.
Noaker, however, said the lawsuit he filed Monday should go forward because Indiana law allows plaintiffs six years to file civil claims once they discover fraud, and the alleged fraud in this case was not found until last November. It was not until then that the plaintiff learned the archdiocese had shuffled Monroe from parishes in Indianapolis to Terre Haute and finally to remote Perry County as it received newer allegations against him.
"This man was clearly prolific and was abusing children at every stop," he said.
The church committed fraud by portraying Monroe as a pastoral minister when actually he was a predator, Monroe said.
"You can't put someone out there, put a collar on them, and then say, 'How were we to know?'" Noaker said.
Noaker also included fraud charges in some of the previous lawsuits brought by other plaintiffs.
Also at the news conference was Melissa Limcaco of Terre Haute, who said her son, Daniel, committed suicide in 1983, four years after Monroe began abusing him. She said Monroe gave her son marijuana and alcohol during a trip to Indianapolis.
"He woke up in the morning and they were in bed together," Limcaco said.
The Associated Press left a message seeking comment from an Indianapolis attorney for Monroe, Brian Ciyou.
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