Woman Claims Abuse by Priest
Suit: Therapy Brought out Memory of Sex Assault around 1970 by Late Monsignor

By Electa Draper
Denver Post
October 17, 2007

A Colorado woman has filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Denver alleging that the late Monsignor Thomas Patrick Barry sexually assaulted her around 1970, when she was an adolescent living with him.

Denise Eckhardt's complaint, which was filed in Denver District Court, says she suffers from multiple personalities and other psychological disorders.

The suit said she has recovered once-suppressed memories of sexual abuse through extended psychiatric therapy, and she will continue to require medical and psychological treatment as a direct result of Barry's abuse.

Barry died April 1, 2003, at the age of 97.

Ordained in 1939, he served as pastor of Annunciation Parish in north Denver from 1955 to 1970 and of St. Joseph's Parish in Golden from 1970 to 1976.

Archdiocese of Denver spokeswoman Jeanette DeMelo said Tuesday that church officials had not yet read the complaint and could not respond to the allegations.

Eckhardt said she met Barry about 1970 at a time when "she was experiencing difficulties in her home." Barry offered her a place to live, she said.

"Thereafter, Monsignor Barry ... sexually molested, exploited and abused her while she was still an adolescent," said the complaint filed by Eckhardt's attorney, Mary Ewing.

Ewing said Tuesday that she wasn't prepared to discuss the suit.

"As a direct result of the sexual abuse," the lawsuit alleged, Eckhardt "suffered and will continue to suffer great pain of mind and body, severe and permanent emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, humiliation and psychological injuries."

The complaint said that the archdiocese knew, or should have known, that Barry had sexually molested children.

The archdiocese is in court on 15 other sexual-assault cases from the 1960s and 1970s against two priests, Harold White and the late Leonard Abercrombie. The archdiocese has settled out of court on an estimated 10 cases.

Electa Draper: 303-954-1276 or


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