|Indy Man Sues, Claims Abuse by Former Priest
Suit, Alleging Assault at Summer Camp in 1965, Points Finger at Diocese, CYO.
By Jeff Wiehe
July 11, 2007
A civil lawsuit filed in Allen Superior Court makes another sexual abuse claim against a former Catholic Diocese of Lafayette priest, and it implicates the local Catholic diocese, as well.
The lawsuit, filed by an Indianapolis man now in his 50s, alleges Gerald Funcheon sexually assaulted, battered and molested him repeatedly in 1965 while he attended summer camp at Lake Wawasee in Syracuse as a 10-year-old boy. According to the lawsuit, the man first started remembering these incidents in 2005. A message left for the man, who grew up in Fort Wayne, was not immediately returned.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocesan Catholic Youth Organization, which ran the camp, are both accused in the lawsuit of being negligent for employing Funcheon as a camp director.
The suit seeks damages from both Funcheon and the local diocese. Also named in the suit are the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette, to which Funcheon belonged to at one point, the camp itself and Crosier Fathers & Brothers, which ordained Funcheon either in 1964 or 1965.
Funcheon, who would be in his late 60s today, could not be tracked down for comment.
His last known whereabouts, according to a story in The Indianapolis Star in 1997, were somewhere in the Northwest caring for his invalid mother.
A call to the local archdiocese was not returned late Tuesday afternoon, and David Kostik, spokesman for the Crosier order, declined comment because he had not seen the lawsuit.
Kevin Cullen, spokesman for the Lafayette Diocese, said according to his records, Funcheon joined the diocese in 1987, before some "concerns" were raised about him sometime in the 1990s. Cullen said he did not know what those entailed, but that Funcheon entered into some type of therapy.
He left the diocese in 1996 and never came back, Cullen said his records showed, adding that the last church Funcheon served was in Dunnington, in Benton County.
A series of stories by The Indianapolis Star and The Indianapolis News in 1997 reported that at least 16 then current and former priests in the Lafayette Diocese had been accused of sexual misconduct in a 25-year period.
The diocese admitted that the actions of 12 "troubled" priests affected about 40 people, the newspapers reported.
One story said that Funcheon had been accused of "planning" to molest a boy and that later a second allegation arose, though it was not specific.
One of the accusers made a claim through hypnosis.
Funcheon denied both charges, the paper said, but admitted to seeking counseling on his own, years later, to help lead a celibate life.
According to those stories, Funcheon was removed from the pulpit in the early 1990s and assigned to some type of facility in Dittmer, Mo., before being banished from the diocese altogether.
In 2003, a California man filed a lawsuit in Minnesota against Funcheon, claiming the priest sexually abused him on more than 150 occasions in the 1970s while Funcheon taught sex and physical education at a Catholic junior high school, according to The Minneapolis Star.
Another man, the Star reported, also accused Funcheon of sexual abuse in the 1970s at the same Catholic school.
The paper said that man accepted a $30,000 out-of-court settlement.
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