Officer Wins Sex Case against Priest

By Beth Miller
Navy Times [Delaware]
January 30, 2007

Cmdr. Kenneth J. Whitwell won a default judgment Jan. 30 in federal court against the Norbertine priest he says sexually abused him 20 years ago, while Whitwell was a student at Archmere Academy, a Roman Catholic school in Claymont, Del.

The ruling gives Whitwell the rare opportunity to tell a jury what happened to him and his family as a result of the abuse.

"Finally, a victim in Delaware gets to have their day in court, and gets to tell their story publicly," said Whitwell, a Navy optometrist stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

The Rev. Edward Smith never answered the allegations Whitwell made against him.

The abuses alleged in the lawsuit occurred during a skiing trip to Vermont, a state that has a longer statute of limitations than Delaware.

But Whitwell's attorney Thomas Neuberger said his client will be able to tell of all the abuses — including those in Delaware — to the jury.

Whitwell alleged that Smith began molesting him in 1982, when he was a 14-year-old freshman and Smith was his religion teacher.

According to the lawsuit, Smith had been removed from his job as principal at St. John Neumann High School in Philadelphia two years earlier amid allegations of sexually abusing children and was "hidden" by church officials in Maryland before being transferred to Delaware.

Whitwell said he repressed memories of the abuse for years until 2003, when they surfaced unexpectedly during a heated argument with his wife. After undergoing therapy, he traveled to Delaware to confront church officials, including Smith.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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