Diocese of Pueblo Sued for Alleged Priest Abuse

By Jenn DeHaan
June 18, 2008

PUEBLO - A Pueblo man in his 40's is suing the Diocese of Pueblo, claiming he was sexually abused by a former priest in the late 1970s and that the Diocese knew of other abuses and did nothing to stop it.

In his six-page lawsuit, a man known only as "John Doe" alleges abuse by then-Father Michael Kurz. Kurz is now a Vicar in Rockford, Illinois.

According to Adam Horowitz, one of John Doe's attorney's, the lawsuit can't be against Kurz because the statute of limitations has run out, but it can be against the Diocese because of something called "fraudulent concealment". In the lawsuit, John Doe claims, "The diocese actively took steps to conceal the abuse of minors and make affirmative misrepresentations to protect FATHER KURZ".

John Doe alleges Kurz sexually abused him starting in 1976, when John Doe was 13 or 14 years old. It also states the abuse continued for an extended period of time during John Doe's freshman and sophomore years in high school.

No one from the Diocese of Pueblo was available to go on camera, but in a statement given to NEWSCHANNEL 13, Monsignor Mark Plewka writes:

"Pueblo, CO June 17, 2008 - The Diocese of Pueblo has received a complaint of sexual misconduct regarding Fr. Michael Kurz, an ex-diocesan priest. The Diocese was informed of the initial complaint through our attorney in late May. The initial complain contained factual inaccuracies. These inaccuracies were made known to the Claimant's Florida attorneys. The Diocese of Pueblo has now received an amended complaint. The claim now states that the abuse began in approximately 1976 and lasted approximately two to three years. However, Fr. Kurz was not assigned to the parish where the alleged abuse took place until December 31, 1976.

There is no evidence of any other complaints of abuse having been made against the priest. A report was filed with Pueblo police upon the complaint being received.

In accordance with its sexual misconduct policies, an offer of assistance, to include counseling services and the opportunity to meet with Bishop Arthur Tafoya, have been extended.

In 1994 Fr. Kurz began work on an extern basis for the Illinois diocese, in their Tribunal. In May of 1998 he was incardinated to the Diocese of Rockford, IL. The Diocese of Pueblo is advised that the complaint was considered by the Diocese of Rockford and found to have lacked credibility. The matter is under consideration by the Diocese of Pueblo's Sexual Misconduct Review Board."

The support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests has called for the Rockford Diocese to suspend Kurz.

"According to diocesan policy and procedures, which were established in 1987, the allegation (naming Msgr. Kurz) was immediately turned over to the Diocesan Review Board for investigation. Upon investigation by our Review Board, the allegations against Msgr. Kurz were unanimously determined to be unfounded and false. Because, according to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, we were not presented with a credible allegation, Msgr. Kurz was not removed from either his ministry in the Diocesan Administration Center or in residence at St. Rita Parish in Rockford, and he will not be removed," says Diocesan Director of Communication Penny Wiegert on behalf of Bishop Thomas G. Doran and the Rockford Diocese.

Click here to read the entire Rockford Diocese statement .

NEWSCHANNEL 13 tried to reach "John Doe," but so far those attempts have been unsuccessful.

The timeframe of these alleged crimes coincide with other claims of abuse by a different priest at the same church. Father Delbert Blong was also sued for molestation around the same time. In this case, the victim claimed Blong infected him with the AIDS virus. This civil suit was settled between the defendant and the victim.



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