Diocese Settles Lawsuit in Priest Abuse Case

Associated Press, carried in KCTV
September 26, 2007

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An Independence man who claims he was sexually abused by a Roman Catholic priest in the 1970s has agreed to end his lawsuit for $227,000 in what his attorneys said Wednesday could be the first in a string of such settlements.

Frank Scheuring, the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and former priest Francis E. McGlynn reached the agreement Tuesday. It follows a Missouri Supreme Court ruling last year that changed the state deadline for victims to file lawsuits.

"That case opened the door for victims in Missouri," said Rebecca Randles, one of Scheuring's attorneys, during a news conference Wednesday.

In its June 2006 ruling, the state Supreme Court said that the state deadline for filing sexual abuse lawsuits is triggered not by when a wrongdoing is committed, but by when victims are

capable of realizing the damage they suffered.

Attorneys for Scheuring, who are handling most of the Kansas City-area abuse claims, credited the Supreme Court ruling with helping them reach the settlement less than a week before the case was scheduled to go to trial in Jackson County Circuit Court.

The case is the first of the 26 cases they have filed against the diocese to be settled. Those cases involve nine priests and about 40 plaintiffs.

The diocese, which agreed to pay $225,000, said in a written statement that it hoped the settlement would allow "true healing" to begin. The diocese settled another sexual abuse claim in April for $60,000.

"As people of faith, the Catholic Church deplores sexual abuse as a profound contradiction of the teaching and witness of Jesus Christ," the diocese said. "In many ways, the church is a family. When one member of a family suffers, everyone suffers."

McGlynn, who agreed to pay $2,000 of the settlement, previously denied the abuse charges through his attorney. Steve Mirakian, an attorney for McGlynn, referred questions to the diocese.

As part of the settlement, Scheuring, now 47, and his family also talked to members of the diocese about ways to prevent abuse.

Scheuring was 11 years old when he confided during confessional that a neighbor was sexually abusing him. Instead of intervening, the suit alleged that McGlynn began his own three-year affair with the boy. Meanwhile, the neighbor continued to abuse Scheuring, his attorneys said.

"He was told during that time that the abuse perpetrated upon him by the priest was the priest's way of showing the love of God," said Randles, of Kansas City. "He had been taught that the priest was God's representative here on earth and stood in the shoes of Jesus Christ and when he was abusing him he was told this was Jesus Chris who was engaging in love."

Randles' co-council, Patrick Noaker, of St. Paul, Minn., said Scheuring initially was confused when news of the Boston sexual abuse cases began breaking.

"He actually wondered, 'Why don't those guys understand they are special? They were touched by God just like me,"' Noaker said.

When Scheuring realized in 2002 that he had been abused, he attempted suicide in a bathroom filled with religious icons and was hospitalized, his attorneys said. He filed the lawsuit in 2003.

"Frank never wants any other child to go through what he went through," Randles said. "He never wants any other child to have to question whether or not there is a God, whether or not there is a supernatural being that is a loving being out there, and whether or not that love is a form of abuse."

Two other plaintiffs — Teresa White and a woman identified only as Jane I.K. Doe — also allege McGlynn abused them at St. Mary's Church in Independence in the 1970s when they were minors.


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