Church Wins Effort to Dismiss Clergy Sex Lawsuit

Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
November 29, 2008

For more information:

David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director (314) 566-9790 cell, (314) 645-5915

Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP Outreach Director (314) 862-7688

Church Wins Effort to Dismiss Clergy Sex Lawsuit

Victim May Appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court

State Law Is Still Unclear on When Those Molested May Sue

In a victory for the St. Louis archdiocese, a three-judge appeals panel has tossed out a civil child sex abuse lawsuit against a now deceased priest. The decision may be appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court.

Church attorneys do not contest that the former altar boy, suing as "Matt Doe," was actually molested. But they claim he allegedly came forward too late.

Earlier this week, the Eastern District Appeals Court in St. Louis, by a 3-0 margin, agreed with Catholic officials.

Leaders of SNAP blasted both the decision and the archdiocese itself for "exploiting legal technicalities to keep the truth hidden and keep victims silent."

The case, filed in August 2006, is against Fr. Louis F. Kertz and the archdiocese. It charges that church officials knew he was a predator but warned no one and transferred him repeatedly. The victim reports that Kertz molested him at a movie theatre in 1981 when he was a student at All Saints School in St. Peters.

SNAP's David Clohessy says that this "out-of-touch ruling" may hurt other civil cases pending against several other alleged abusive clergy.

SNAP has repeatedly asked former Archbishop Raymond Burke and other church officials to not use technicalities to "dodge their legal and moral responsibility in helping those who have been raped or sodomized by clerics and ignored or rebuffed by church authorities."

"The archdiocese spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on high-priced defense lawyers seeking to escape accountability for horrific crimes and cover ups," said Clohessy. "It's an unChristian misuse of parishioners' donations."

In May 2006, in a separate legal action, a Florida inmate named Michael K. Orf also sued Kertz. That lawsuit was filed in St. Charles County. Orf reports suffering abuse by Kertz at the same Catholic school in St. Peters.

Kertz was ordained in 1948 and was an Air Force chaplain in 1957. Locally, he worked at the following parishes: St. Liborius--1949, Our Lady of Sorrows--1954, St. Aloysius Gonzaga--1960-62, St. Ferdinand in Florissant--1964, Holy Guardian Angels--1965-66, Cure of Ars in Shrewsbury--1974-75, All Saints in St. Peters--1977-81, Immaculate Conception in Flat River--1982-85. He died in 1985.

The victim whose suit was just tossed is in his 30s, lives in Missouri, works in education, and is single. He is represented by Clayton attorneys Ken Chackes (369-3902 cell) and Susan Carlson (872-8420).

The archdiocese is represented by Ed Goldenhersch (516 2667), Bernie Huger (516 2659) and Lucie Huger 345 4725.


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