Court Rules Delaware Priest Cases May Go Forward

News Journal
June 5, 2010

Eight clergy sexual-abuse trials on hold since the fall because of the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington's bankruptcy filing can move forward this fall, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court said this week.

The diocese sought protection Oct. 18 in federal bankruptcy court to manage the potential liability from priest sexual-abuse lawsuits, the first of which were scheduled to start Oct. 19.

The diocese has 126 diocesan priests and pastoral charge of 233,000 Roman Catholics. The bankruptcy filing froze any lawsuits under an automatic stay.

An order issued by the court this week said that despite the diocese bankruptcy case in mediation, eight cases against now-defrocked priest Francis G. DeLuca can be scheduled for trial after Oct. 1, 2010. They are against St. Elizabeth's, St. John's and St. Matthew's parishes on behalf of John Vai, Michael Schulte and six other anonymous alleged victims.

On Friday, Wilmington lawyer Thomas S. Neuberger also filed two new cases in Superior Court against several parishes, including St. Paul's in Wilmington, St. Mary Refuge of Sinners in Cambridge, Md., and Immaculate Conception in Elkton, Md.

In the first case, the anonymous victim, identified as John Goe #2, alleges that between 1970 and 1979 -- when he was 7 to 17 years old -- he was sexually abused by diocese priest Walter D. Power in Sussex County and Maryland. He is the third person to sue Power claiming abuse. In the other case, John Toe #3 alleges that in the 1960s he was sexually abused by the late diocese priest John O'Brien. He is the second person to sue accusing O'Brien of abuse.


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