One Abuse Case Dismissed, Another Filed

Associated Press, carried in USA Today

Juky 17, 2008

A lawsuit brought against two Roman Catholic dioceses by five men sexually abused by a Catholic school teacher was dismissed Wednesday by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The move came a day after a man sued the archdiocese of Denver over sexual abuse after seeing documents released as part of a big settlement last month that name the same priest he says molested him as a teenager.

In Wisconsin

Although the diocese of Milwaukee and Madison knew about the teacher's past, its failure to warn potential victims in other states did not constitute negligence, the supreme court said.

"Obviously I think it's unfortunate because this is a teacher that molested students in two different locations and went on to do it again," said Wendy Gunderson, the attorney for the men.

Attorneys and representatives for the dioceses did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

The men, who were abused in Kentucky, accused the Wisconsin dioceses of covering up the teacher's abuse of dozens of children in the 1960s while he taught at Catholic schools in Madison and Milwaukee.

The men Kenneth Hornback, Dennis L. Bolton, Ronald W. Kuhl, David W. Schaeffer and Glenn M. Bonn were among 243 plaintiffs compensated under a $25.7 million church abuse settlement with the Archdiocese of Louisville. They were all under age 15 when they were sexually abused by Gary Kazmarek, a Catholic school teacher and coach in Louisville, between 1968 and 1973.

Kazmarek pleaded guilty in 2003 to sexually abusing the men and is serving a 13-year prison sentence in Kentucky.

After the settlement in Louisville, the men filed the lawsuit in Wisconsin claiming the dioceses in the state were negligent in failing to contact police or warn employers that Kazmarek was known for sexually abusing children.

The lawsuit alleged that Kazmarek abused more than two dozen children between 1964 and 1966 when he taught at a parish school in Milwaukee.

When the diocese learned of the abuse, church officials told Kazmarek to "leave Milwaukee quietly" despite promises to parents that he would get treatment and never have contact with children again, according to the suit. Kazmarek then went on to teach at a Catholic school in suburban Madison where he abused up to ten children before moving to Kentucky, the lawsuit said.

In Colorado

The accuser claims he was abused by the late Harold White, an ex-priest who was named in the bulk of the cases that were settled this month. White was removed from the ministry in 1993 and died in 2006.

The lawsuit claims the abuse occurred in 1969 or 1970 at St. John the Evangelist Church in Loveland when the plaintiff was 14. It seeks unspecified damages.

Michael Finnegan, a lawyer with the Minneapolis firm representing the man, said the man decided to sue after seeing church documents about White that were released as part of the settlements.

According to the suit, the documents posted on the firm's website show White had admitted in February 1961 to sexually molesting five or six children. That was seven years before he was moved to St. John's.

"He was outraged and saddened to see the archdiocese, to see the bishops and priests that he trusted, would cover up and conceal this for so long," Finnegan said.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Jeanette De Melo said church officials haven't received a copy of the lawsuit. She said the archdiocese is willing to meet with anyone who claims abuse by clergy and offer help in healing.

The documents were released to help the plaintiffs find healing and resolution, she said. She declined to comment on their use as grounds for another lawsuit.

The archdiocese has settled 43 sex abuse cases since 2005 for a total of $8.2 million. Under the settlement reached this month, the archdiocese agreed to pay $5.5 million.

Two other lawsuits besides the new one remain unresolved.


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