New Court Cases about Clergy Abuse

November 25, 2013

[Star Tribune]

[Pioneer Press]


Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will disclose that

--a Catholic priest accused of molesting in Baltimore won a key court case last week, and

-- the first-ever clergy sex abuse and cover up lawsuit against a Maryland facility for predator priests was filed last week.

They will also urge anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes in the state to “speak up,


Monday, Nov. 25 at 11:30 a.m.


On the sidewalk in front of the Saint Luke's Institute - 8901 New Hampshire Ave Silver Spring, MD 20903


Four to five members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (


1)Last week, apparently for the first time ever, a Catholic facility in Maryland that has housed hundreds of predator priests was named as a defendant in a civil clergy sex abuse and cover up lawsuit.



The suit, filed Tuesday in Dakota County Minnesota, was brought by a Minnesota man who charges that Fr. Francis Hoefgen sexually abused him after the priest “graduated” from sex offender treatment at the St. Luke’s Institute in Suitland and was then put back in to a church with no warning to the parishioners.

Before being sent to the center, Fr. Hoefgen admitted to police that he had twice performed oral sex on a boy, according to Minnesota Public Radio.


A 1984 letter from St. Luke founder and president, Fr. Michael Peterson, “apologized for not consulting with police about his ‘strong recommendation’ that Fr. Hoefgen immediately leave Minnesota for a psychiatric evaluation.”


SNAP wants Catholic officials in Maryland and the District of Columbia, for the safety of kids, to insist that St. Luke’s disclose the names, photos and work histories of child molesting clerics on their archdiocesan websites. A similar Catholic facility operated for years in New Mexico but was eventually closed. Investigations and civil suits showed that church officials there let credibly accused predator priests leave the facility on weekends and work in neighboring parishes without warning church-goers.

The group also feels St. Luke’s officials should report known and suspected child molesting clerics they house or evaluation to law enforcement officials – in Maryland and elsewhere - whether or not they are required to do so by law.

SNAP also wants proven, admitted and credibly accused predator priests to be housed and treated in remote, secure, independent facilities, not ones run by Catholic officials.


2) A child sex abuse lawsuit against Fr. Raymond P. Melville, who allegedly assaulted one child in Maryland and several in Maine, was tossed out last week by the Maine Supreme Court. SNAP is asking Maryland Catholic officials to use church bulletins, pulpit announcements and parish websites to alert local citizens and Catholics about Fr. Melville’s alleged crimes here.

A Maine jury, in 2008, awarded $4 million to one of Fr. Melville’s victims, William Picher.


In Maryland, Fr. Melville worked at two places: Our Lady of Good Counsel parish in Locust Point (1980 to 1984) and the University of Maryland Hospital (1982 to 1983). He attended the University of Baltimore and St. Mary's Seminary (1979 to 1985). Later, he reportedly lived in Oklahoma and Internet sources suggest that Fr. Melville now lives in Elkin, North Carolina. Fr. Melville’s photo and work history are here:




The attorney who represents one of Fr. Melville’s victims is Sumner Lipman of Augusta, Maine (207 622 3711,


Dave Lorenz 301-262-6517 · 301-906-9161 (m) ·

Frank Dingle 410-744-2398 · 443-996-2398 (m) ·








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