New Abuse Lawsuit Filed against Church

By Electa Draper
Denver Post
July 21, 2008

"John Doe 2B," the latest in more than 30 cases of childhood sexual abuse against deceased ex-priest Harold Robert White, sued the Archdiocese of Denver today in Denver District Court. The anonymous plaintiff said he was molested as a 12-year-old altar boy at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Loveland around 1969.

A support group for victims of clergy sexual abuse demanded at a news conference today outside the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, that Archbishop Charles Chaput stop keeping secrets about accused priests and personally visit the parishes of known pedophiles to urge any victims to come forward.

"The archdiocese has refused to take meaningful action. It's time for Chaput to come clean," said Kirsten Boyd, a Denver spokeswoman for the Survivors Network of those Accused by Priests, or SNAP.

Boyd and SNAP's Denver leader, Jeb Barrett, said the archdiocese should permanently post the names of known offenders within the archdiocese on a web site.

SNAP's demands include full disclosure about any priests with credible allegations against them, even those retired or dead.

The Archdiocese of Denver released a statement in response that said it "and Archbishop Chaput take every claim of sexual abuse of a minor seriously.

"Since 2002 through various ways, Archbishop Chaput has encouraged victims to come forward and report abuse to the archdiocese in hopes that we might aid victims to heal. We will continue to encourage this. The archdiocese offer to meet with victims is always available to them."

Boyd said that the archdiocese kept secret for weeks, perhaps much longer, the names of two accused priests, Monsignors Thomas Barry and Lawrence St. Peter, both deceased.

Since 2005, the archdiocese has settled 43 claims against White, St. Peter and Leonard Abercrombie for more than $8.3 million.

A few other known cases are pending, including a lawsuit filed July 15 by a man who says White abused him in 1969 when he was a 14-year-old altar boy in Loveland.

Boyd said that the latest two victims came forward because of disclosure of White's long history of offenses made in early July after the archdiocese settled 18 cases for $5.5 million.

White retired from active ministry in 1993 at age 60 and was stripped of his priesthood by the church in 2004. White died in November 2006 at age 73 while vacationing in Mexico.

White worked in 11 parishes over 33 years, and sex-abuse charges so far have surfaced in six of them for incidents occurring between 1960 and 1981.

"We beg victims and witnesses to keep coming forward, speaking up, exposing secrets and protecting kids," Boyd said.

Chaput has said that the archdiocese no longer tolerates sexual misconduct by any clergy or lay staff, immediately suspending an accused's service and reporting any allegations to law-enforcement authorities.

Chaput also has said he would personally meet with any victims of abuse.


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