|Marianists' Chided for Seeking Names of Plaintiffs
District Judge Denies Request, Says Pueblo Plaintiffs May Remain Anonymous until They Testify at Trial
By Patrick Malone
September 29, 2007
A watchdog organization that tracks abuse by clergy staged press conferences in two cities Thursday over a Catholic religious order's actions in a slew of Pueblo lawsuits.
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, better known as SNAP, issued statements outside the St. Louis headquarters of the Society of Mary religious order (also known as the Marianists) and Central Catholic High School in San Antonio.
The common thread between the two sites is former Marianist Brother William Mueller, who belonged to the order for 24 years before voluntarily leaving the clergy in the mid-1980s. During that span, he was assigned five times to all-boys high schools in three states, including Roncalli High School in Pueblo from 1966-71, and Central Catholic High School in San Antonio from 1971-81.
Depositions from four Missouri lawsuits alleging that Mueller abused former students revealed that Marianist leaders were aware of Mueller's alleged indiscretions involving teenage boys since 1958. Mueller, who is 69 and resides in San Antonio, exercised his right to stay silent when he was deposed.
Allegations of abuse by Mueller contained in lawsuits and police reports were generated during every stop of Mueller's Marianist career and number 40. Most of the allegations involve claims that Mueller convinced students to take part in secret experiments, then subdued them with ether and sexually assaulted them.
SNAP has identified Mueller as one of the 10 most prolific abusers of children in the history of the American Catholic church.
In Pueblo, 24 lawsuits have been filed containing similar allegations from Mueller's time at Roncalli. The suits name the Marianists and the Catholic Diocese of Pueblo as defendants.
Last week District Judge Victor Reyes denied a request from lawyers for the Marianists seeking to compel the Pueblo plaintiffs to divulge their identities. All but three of the plaintiffs in the Pueblo suits have filed either as John Does, or using their initials.
Reyes ruled that the plaintiffs can remain anonymous until trial, when their identities would become public if they testify in court.
David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, issued a statement Thursday chiding Marianist leaders for attempting to out Mueller's Pueblo accusers.
"Their intention can only be to scare victims into staying quiet and intimidate the victims who've already come forward," Clohessy said. "This is obviously not how Jesus would act. It's plainly, simply a mean-spirited attack by an organization that's desperate to keep its cover-ups secret."
The suits filed locally by former Roncalli students is pending in district court.
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