Man Alleging Sex Abuse Sues Diocese

By Kevin Wheatley
November 14, 2009

A man who says Rev. Joseph N. Muench sexually abused him as an associate pastor of Good Shepherd Church has sued the Catholic Diocese of Covington and its bishop for an unspecified amount of damages.

Muench (pronounced "minch") also faces criminal charges in Franklin County of sexual abuse stemming from the same time frame and the lawsuit claims the diocese and bishop didn't report the allegations to police, a legal requirement.

The lawsuit also says the defendants created an atmosphere that encouraged Muench's alleged sexual abuse by turning a blind eye to reported incidents.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit says he suffers from depression, anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder and other emotional and psychological disorders as a result Muench's alleged sexual abuse

The Diocese of Covington and its bishop, Roger J. Foys, are named as defendants in the suit filed Friday in Franklin Circuit Court. The Catholic Diocese of Covington and Foys couldn't be reached for comment.

The lawsuit says the sexual abuse started in 1984 while Muench was an associate pastor at Good Shepherd.

It seeks an undisclosed amount of damages from medical expenses and loss of income.

Richard M. Guarnieri, the attorney who filed the action, said he sent a letter to the Covington diocese several weeks ago but never heard from them.

Guarnieri said he wouldn't wait for the criminal case against Muench to be resolved before pursuing his lawsuit.

"I think the criminal case and the civil case aren't dependent on each other," Guarnieri told The State Journal.

The victim in this case is also one of the two victims in Muench's criminal case, but isn't one of the three men represented by Louisville attorney B. Keith Saksefski, Guarnieri said.

The charges against Muench and the Covington diocese came after Bishop Ronald W. Gainer, of the Lexington Diocese, suspended Muench July 13. Muench was a pastor at Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary Church in Lexington at the time.

Three men represented by Sakefski alleged Muench sexually assaulted them while he was an associate pastor at Good Shepherd between 1984 and 1986. Sakefski sent the diocese a letter to let them know of the allegations.

Commonwealth's Attorney Larry Cleveland became aware of the case after the diocese's investigation found evidence of sexual misconduct, he said. The diocese forwarded its information to Cleveland.

"We've been interviewing people, reviewing transcripts of other interviews conducted by other people and meeting with the city police and determining how best to proceed," Cleveland told The State Journal after Muench's indictment Oct. 21.

Muench pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Oct. 29.

The Covington diocese recently settled a number of cases involving sexual abuse.

Some of those include $120 million to about 700 alleged victims in 2005, $8.3 million to 39 alleged victims in 2004 and $5 million to another 27 in 2003, according newspaper accounts.


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