Molestation Lawsuit against Ex-Deacon Living in Bonita Springs Dropped

By Pat Gillespie
June 13, 2008

An Ohio man dropped a lawsuit against a former Catholic deacon living in Bonita Springs because the statute of limitations ran out.

Tom Ferguson, 48, filed a lawsuit in February against Glen Shrimplin, alleging Shrimplin molested him as a teenager on a trip to Florida in 1975 or 1976. He was seeking damages in excess of $15,000.

"My lawyer advised me that because of the statute of limitations, it wasn't going to be feasible," Ferguson said Thursday from Ohio. According to Florida law, the statute of limitations for most civil lawsuits is four to seven years.

Efforts to reach Shrimplin on Thursday were unsuccessful. In 2003, when a different lawsuit alleging abuse was filed in Ohio, Shrimplin, 74, told The News-Press he was "shocked" and "at a loss" and denied the allegations.

According to Ferguson's suit, Shrimplin sexually abused Ferguson in Florida as well as in Ohio.

Ferguson said he slipped into depression and received counseling to combat it. He said money wasn't the objective of the lawsuit, but rather bringing light to the church's problems.

"I really wasn't in it for that - I was in it to expose this guy," he said. "It's about healing now for me. And that's what I'm focusing on."

Ferguson was offered part of a $3 million fund to pay for counseling for victims of clerical abuse set up by the Catholic Conference of Ohio. But, Ferguson said, in order to get money, a victim had to waive potential lawsuits, which he refused to do.

In 2004, the Toledo diocese settled all but one of 19 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse of minors by clergy, paying $1.19 million to 23 victims, according to The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.

Shrimplin's name is listed on the Catholic Diocese of Toledo's Web site among clerics who have been accused of sexual abuse between 1950 and 2006. He became a deacon in 1974. He worked at Immaculate Conception, St. Catherine's and Corpus Christi churches in Toledo during the 1970s, when the alleged abuse occurred.

A deacon is an ordained man in the first of three stages of preparation for the priesthood. Shrimplin removed himself from the ministry in 1987, Sally Oberski, director of communications for the diocese, told The News-Press in 2003. The Vatican laicized, or defrocked him, last November, according to The Blade.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.