Lawsuit Alleges Abuse by Deceased Priest
Diocese Says Both Parties Were Adults

By Mike Baird
March 9, 2010

CORPUS CHRISTI (TX) -- A lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Corpus Christi alleges repeated sexual abuse of a teenage male 38 years ago by a priest who died in 2008.

A statement from the diocese Friday indicated that both parties were adults. The diocese said, when informed of the allegation in 2008 shortly before the priest's death, the diocese immediately furnished all information to the district attorney, who declined to prosecute.

Three pages of the original lawsuit, filed Friday in 94th District Court, were missing at the Nueces County District Clerk's office, according to officials there. Houston attorney Daniel L. Shea said he will refile to include the deceased priest's trust as a third defendant.

The district clerk's office initially withheld the lawsuit Monday from the Caller-Times. The newspaper was told early Monday that Deputy District Clerk Claudia Pullin was reviewing the file behind closed doors and that it wouldn't be available until after lunch. Pullin, reached by phone, told the newspaper that the clerk's office had 10 days to fulfill open record requests.

A lawsuit, once filed in court, is a public document. The document, because of its ready availability once filed, is required to be available immediately. Government officials have 10 days to decide whether to seek an attorney general's opinion on whether a record meets the exceptions to the law that allow the record to be withheld. Public officials often cite the 10-day rule in error as a blanket rule applying to all public information requests. The district clerk's office turned over the lawsuit after the error was pointed out.

The lawsuit is on behalf of a Nueces County man in his 50s, named John Doe in the lawsuit.

He has been identified to the diocese. He has an extensive history of mental illness, according to the court documents.

The suit says that after he spent a month at Austin State Hospital in 1971, the plaintiff's parents, who lived in Rye, sent him to Corpus Christi by bus for a job on a fishing boat. The plaintiff sought a place to stay at Holy Cross Rectory, where he met the Rev. Thomas L. Meany, the lawsuit says.

Meany fed him at the rectory then took him to Aransas Pass, where he introduced Doe to boat Capt. Rodney Duzak, according to the lawsuit. Afterward, Meany took the plaintiff to a deserted beach and made sexual advances, according to the lawsuit.

A sexual relationship between Meany and the plaintiff continued through 1982, the lawsuit said.

In May 2008 the plaintiff contacted Bishop Edmond Carmody to relate the sexual abuse history, the lawsuit said. Carmody offered counseling at the church's expense up to $3,000, a religious artifact blessed by the pope, and advised the plaintiff to forgive and move on, the suit said.

Neither District Attorney Carlos Valdez nor First Assistant District Attorney Mark Skurka were available Monday for comment.

The lawsuit seeks damages as a result of the alleged conduct of the priest, diocese and leadership for lifelong counseling expenses for the plaintiff, according to the suit.

It also seeks punitive and exemplary damages for loss of faith, lost wages and lost earning capacity because of severe emotional and psychological pain and suffering, according to the lawsuit.

Shea said the plaintiff is under psychiatric care on Social Security disability.


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