Lawsuit Accuses Former Toledo Deacon of Sexual Abuse

By David Yonke
Toledo Blade
February 13, 2008

A former Toledo Catholic deacon and dentist living in Bonita Springs, Fla., was sued yesterday by an Ohio man who claimed he was sexually abused during Christmas break in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., more than 30 years ago.

Tom Ferguson, 48, a former Toledoan living in Cleveland, said in the lawsuit filed in a Circuit Court in Florida that Dr. Glen Shrimplin took him to Florida on a vacation when he was 15 years old and repeatedly molested him.

He said Dr. Shrimplin gave him alcoholic beverages by the pool during the day and then abused him at night in the hotel.

Dr. Shrimplin, now 73, was sued by two other men who claimed in 2003 that the deacon and dentist sexually abused them when they were minors.

One of those lawsuits, filed anonymously by a victim as John Doe, was settled by the Toledo diocese in August, 2004, as part of the $1.19 million settlement it paid to 23 victims.

Catholic deacons are formally ordained to assist priests and bishops. They can preside at weddings, funerals, and wakes but can't celebrate Mass or the Eucharist nor the sacraments of penance or anointing the sick.

Dr. Shrimplin was ordained as a deacon in 1974 and quit in 1987. He was formally laicized by the Vatican on Nov. 30, 2007, the diocese said yesterday.

In June, 2002, former Toledo Bishop James R. Hoffman apologized in a letter to one victim, David Barciz, saying, "First of all, I need to apologize to you in the name of the Diocese of Toledo and also to say I am sorry for the abuse that you received from Glen Shrimplin."

Mr. Ferguson said yesterday that the sexual abuse "left me feeling ashamed, violated, guilty, and trapped with nowhere to turn and no one to turn to."

He said he tried to avoid thinking about the Fort Lauderdale trip, which was in December, 1975, and January, 1976, until about 1 1/2 years ago when he became severely depressed. "I finally disclosed it to my wife, my daughter, and the rest of my brothers and sisters and started to get counseling," he said. "It was only then that I was able to start tackling the demons and had the courage to fight back."

He said he first contacted the Toledo diocese Jan. 7 to report the allegations, and was advised to sign up for the Victim Assistance Program. That $3 million fund was set up by the Catholic Conference of Ohio in November, 2006, to pay the counseling bills of victims of clerical sexual abuse who were reluctant to ask the church for help.

But the program requires victims to waive their rights to sue the diocese, and Mr. Ferguson said he declined to apply. "When you ask somebody to waive their rights, in my estimation it's just victimization again," he said.

The suit was filed in the 20th Judicial Circuit Court of Lee County, Florida, because the sexual abuse occurred in Florida, Mr. Ferguson said.

He said he hopes the lawsuit will "reach out to the many more victims" of Dr. Shrimplin.

Barbara Blaine, a former Toledoan who is founder and president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said yesterday she believes Dr. Shrimplin continues to put children at risk. "We know of at least a dozen victims, and the majority of them have not come forward," Ms. Blaine said.

Jeff Anderson, a Minnesota attorney who has filed more than 1,000 lawsuits against Catholic dioceses nationwide, is representing Mr. Ferguson along with Joseph Saunders, an attorney in Pinellas Park, Fla.

Contact David Yonke at: dyonke@theblade.comor 419-724-6154.


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