Lawsuit Alleges Omaha Archdiocese Covered up Clergy Abuse

Associated Press, carried in Beatrice Daily Sun
April 25, 2007

Omaha, Neb. - A former parishioner filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Archdiocese of Omaha, alleging the archdiocese allowed him to be abused as a teenager by a priest and tried to conceal it.

The lawsuit, brought by 41-year-old Cary Claar of Springfield, Ore., alleges Father Duane Lucas sexually abused Claar for several years starting around 1978, when Claar was 12 or 13 years old.

The archdiocese knew or should have known Lucas was a pedophile, and "made no meaningful effort" to restrict his access to children or monitor his behavior, said attorneys Maren Lynn Chaloupka and Kelly Clark in the complaint filed in U.S. District Court.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for emotional pain and suffering, loss of foreseeable income, health care costs and court costs.

"Employers of sexual predators have gone to extreme lengths to protect themselves from accountability to the victims," Chaloupka told The Associated Press. "A conspiracy of concealment can inflict harm on a sex abuse victim that is as profound as the harm from the original molestation."

A message left for the Omaha Archdiocese late Wednesday was not returned. It was not clear if Lucas still was with the Omaha Archdiocese or where he lived.

Claar told a priest in 1990 about the assault, but the priest did not recommend any form of counseling or mental health assistance, according to the lawsuit.

Then in 2003, Claar told a priest in Oregon of the alleged assault. The Portland Archdiocese informed the Omaha Archdiocese of the allegations in 2003 or 2004, the lawsuit says.

The Portland Archdiocese then arranged for counseling for Claar with a counselor who was an agent of the archdiocese, the lawsuit says.

Neither the counselor nor the archdiocese advised Claar to seek legal counsel, according to the lawsuit, and intentionally delayed Claar's understanding of the situation in order to run out the statue of limitations on the alleged crime.

The U.S. Conference of Bishops estimates abuse-related costs from lawsuits nationwide have exceeded $1.5 billion, the majority out-of-court settlements. Many of the alleged acts took place long before statutes of limitations expired.


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