Another Suit Filed against Diocese

By Jeff Tucker
Pueblo Chieftain
October 22, 2009

A new lawsuit has been filed against the Diocese of Pueblo alleging sexual abuse by two late priests.

In the suit, Puebloan Tom Roldan alleges that Rev. Andrew Burke and Rev. John F. Martin sexually abused him more than a dozen times while he was a teenager in the 1970s.

Martin's name has not surfaced before in the number of abuse cases filed against the Pueblo Diocese.

Meanwhile, Pueblo District Judge Victor Reyes ruled this week that Burke's personnel file will remain sealed in a separate abuse case involving the priest.

In the new suit, Roldan claims he worked as a maintenance man and janitor for St. Pius X church from 1969 to 1973, during the time that both Martin and Burke were priests there. In his suit, Roldan claims the two priests sexually abused him more than a dozen times beginning in 1971, when he was 17 years old.

Roldan, now 56, claims the two priests abused him in the basement of the rectory and that the instances of abuse - which included simulated sodomy, oral sex and fondling - continued over two years.

The suit claims the Pueblo Diocese knew the abuse was taking place and took steps to conceal it.

It claims the diocese owed Roldan the duty to investigate the potential for harm from the two priests, disclose its awareness of the priests' patterns of behavior and provide a safe, protected environment for Roldan.

Roldan is claiming permanent psychological and emotional damage, emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and lost wages and earning potential.

He is seeking damages and court costs.

The suit goes into specifics about Burke, who killed himself in 2005 after a separate case was filed against him.

The suit claims Burke wrote a letter to Pueblo Diocese officials to discuss a problem Burke was having and that "problem" was often a euphemism in the church for pedophilia.

The suit claims that Burke was seeing a psychiatrist for mental health reasons in 1969, who later recommended Burke leave the priesthood because it would be in the church's best interest that Burke be free of the vows of celibacy.

The suit mentions a letter Burke wrote to Bishop Charles Buswell that referenced his "psychosexual behavioral problem" and that Buswell sent Burke to Parkview Hospital.

The suit also goes into the details of Burke's petition to leave the priesthood, including details from a letter from his psychiatrist to the pope saying that his behavior pattern was "sexual in character and was rather unusual in its mani- festations."

But the suit notes that Pueblo Bishop Charles Buswell's letter supporting Burke's petition to leave the priesthood included no reference to Burke's psychosexual problem.

Reyes' ruling on Burke's personnel file is connected to a suit filed by a man known only as John Doe No. 7.

The ruling allows attorneys and others directly involved in the case to review the file, but prevents its dissemination publicly.

Adam Horowitz, the Miami attorney for John Doe, said he was frustrated with the ruling because he feels the public is entitled to know more about how abuser priests are handled within the church.

"I think the public has a right to know who enabled these abusers," he said. "They have the right to know who transferred these priests from parish to parish."

Diocese spokesman Mark A. Plewka was out of the country Wednesday and unavailable for comment.



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