3 Catholic clerics sued over sex abuse

By Rosa Salter Rodriguez
Journal Gazette
July 29, 2015

Three Roman Catholic clergymen who served in the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese in the 1950s through the 1970s have been sued in Minnesota by two men who claim they were victims of sexual abuse as minors.

The clerics – a priest and two religious brothers – were affiliated with the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross, also known as the Crosiers. The order for many years operated a seminary in Syracuse known as Our Lady of the Lake.

The new abuse is alleged to have taken place at Crosier Seminary in Onamia, Minnesota, between 1979 and 1981 when the men, identified only as Doe 51 and Doe 56, were students there.

The civil suit was filed Tuesday by Jeff Anderson and Associates of St. Paul, Minnesota, in Ramsey County District Court in St. Paul. None of the men who were sued has been charged criminally.

One of the accused clerics is the Rev. Gerald Funcheon, who was sued in Allen County in 2007 in connection with alleged abuse at a Catholic Youth Organization camp at Lake Wawasee and since 2003 has faced lawsuits alleging abuse in California, Hawaii and Minnesota.

The Anderson law firm has posted court documents online saying Funcheon has admitted in a deposition to abusing as many as 18 children and teens and might have more than 50 victims.

Doe 51 and Doe 56 each says he was abused by Funcheon. Doe 51 alleges that he also was abused by two religious brothers, Gabriel Guerrero and Roman Fleischacker. Doe 56 alleges abuse by a religious brother, Wendell Mohs, and a priest, the Rev. Roger Vaughn.

Guerrero and Mohs, who have been accused of abusing multiple youths, have ties to the Fort Wayne area, according to attorney Mike Finnegan, an Anderson associate.

Guerrero was assigned to Our Lady of the Lake Seminary from 1955 to 1957, and Mohs has said he lived in the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese in the 1970s and attended Saint Francis College – now the University of Saint Francis – in Fort Wayne, Finnegan said.

Mohs “has been on our radar for some time. We’ve had other cases and have taken his deposition. He has not denied sexually having crossed several lines,” Anderson said.

Doe 51 was about 15 to 17 years old when the abuse occurred in 1979 to 1981, and Doe 56 was 14 to 15 years old when he was abused from 1979 to 1980, the suit states.

In dismissing the Allen County suit against Funcheon in 2009, Superior Court Judge Stanley A. Levine ruled that neither the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese nor the Crosier order was legally responsible for Funcheon’s alleged behavior because they were unaware of it and it was not related to the performance of his duties.

The case, filed by Stephen Eckert of Indianapolis, was formally closed in 2012.

Funcheon was ordained in the diocese by the late Bishop Leo Pursley and left the Crosiers in May 1987, according to an assignment history provided by the order. Funcheon was removed from ministry in 1992 after he had been accepted as a priest by the Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana.

Funcheon’s other northeast Indiana ties include being a teacher and athletic director of Our Lady of the Lake Seminary from 1966 to 1969 and a teacher and prefect of discipline at Wawasee Preparatory School from 1973 to 1975. He also may have been a Boy Scout chaplain in the Warsaw area.

Anderson said the new Minnesota cases were filed now because the Diocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul has filed for bankruptcy, and anyone abused by clergy working in the diocese, including the Crosiers, have until Aug. 3 to bring claims.

Minnesota allows those abused in other states to bring abuse claims against Crosiers because of the order’s presence in the state, Finnegan said.



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