Catholic Church Abuse Cases in the News

By Stephanie Innes
Arizona Daily Star [United States]
July 10, 2007

The national scandal over clergy abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States peaked in 2002, but its effects linger.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles is reportedly close to settling 500 cases alleging sexual abuse of minors by Los Angeles clergy, among them a handful of lawsuits filed by Tucson-area men who say they were sexually abused by the Rev. Kevin Barmasse during the 1980s.

Barmasse was a youth director at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church on the Northwest Side. Some of the teens who went through that program called him "Rev. Kev." A young priest at the time, Rev. Kev befriended the young men in his charge. According to the men who filed lawsuits, Rev. Kev also took advantage of their innocence and faith by sexually abusing them during private prayer sessions.

The men who say they were abused by Barmasse already have received monetary settlements through the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson's Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. But he was never a local diocesan priest. While in Tucson he was on loan from the Los Angeles diocese.

Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas has said Barmasse should have never been allowed to minister here, since there had been a previous allegation against him in Los Angeles.

In other news, civil actions against the local Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary are set to go to trial next year.

The accusers have not yet proven they repressed memories of enduring alleged physical and emotional abuse at the hands of the nuns while living at their former Downtown convent in the 1960s. Courts in Arizona have previously required proof of repressed memory, based on an Arizona Supreme Court decision, in order to seek damages in decades-old cases of abuse.

Also, watch Wednesday's paper for an update on the Rev. Gary E. Underwood, who is criminally charged with abusing two teenage boys while he was a priest at St. Odilia's Catholic Church on ther Northwest Side during the 1980s.


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