New Diocese Case Charges 1968 Abuse

By Sean O'Sullivan
The News Journal

October 19, 2008

A 58-year-old Delaware man is the latest to file an anonymous civil lawsuit against the Diocese of Wilmington alleging childhood sexual abuse by a Catholic priest.

The man, called "John Coe No. 1," charges that the late Rev. Eugene F. Clarahan repeatedly sexually assaulted him in his cell at the New Castle County Correctional Institution in 1968.

John Coe was 17 at the time, according to the lawsuit filed in New Castle County Superior Court, and was in jail for being a minor in possession of alcohol. Clarahan was the chaplain at the facility.

Clarahan was a priest for 31 years in Elsmere, Wilmington, New Castle and Dover parishes before being transferred to Maryland.

He retired in 1993 and died in 1999, according to court papers. He was named by the diocese in 2006 as one of 20 priests who had "admitted, corroborated or otherwise substantiated" allegations of abuse filed against them.

Diocese officials could not be reached Friday but generally have declined to comment on any of the civil lawsuits seeking damages for childhood sexual abuse.

Coe's attorney, Thomas Neuberger, said the case is "another sad example of what happens when an institution cares more about money and power than it does about the children and other vulnerable members of our society."

This lawsuit is the 25th filed by Neuberger against the diocese under the Delaware Child Victim's Act of 2007. The act suspends the statute of limitations on such civil suits until July 10, 2009.

Contact Sean O'Sullivan at 324-2777 or


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