Two Former Altar Boys Sue Wilmington Diocese

By Sean O'sullivan
The News Journal

September 27, 2008

Two state civil lawsuits were filed Friday against the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington alleging that the late Rev. Walter D. Power sexually abused two men when they were altar boys in the 1950s.

Power, who retired in 1983 and died in 1998, was named by the diocese in 2006 as one of 20 priests who had "credible or substantiated complaints of sexual abuse of minors" against them.

William Fleming, 65, who now lives in Denver, alleged Power molested him while he was serving as an altar boy at St. Helena Church in the late 1950s.

Edward G. Banks Jr., 66, who is now an attorney in Maryland, claims Power sexually abused him more than 50 times when he was serving as an altar boy in the rural St. Francis De Sales parish in Maryland from 1952 to 1954.

Banks was also a Boy Scout -- a group Power had been assigned to oversee as part of his duties.

Both men are being represented by Wilmington attorney Thomas S. Neuberger, who has filed more than 20 lawsuits by victims under the Delaware Child Victim's Act of 2007.

That law opened a two-year "look back" window to allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to file civil actions, regardless of the statute of limitations, until July 2009.

While the diocese named Powers as having credible allegations against him, diocese spokesman Robert Krebs declined comment Friday on the two newest suits.

Both civil actions, seeking damages, were filed in Kent County Superior Court.

"As we learn more and more about these pedophile priests, it becomes crystal clear that the diocese knew about their abuse of young innocents for decades," Neuberger said, and did little to nothing about it.

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