Lawsuit dismissed against late priest, former Notre Dame principal
By Claire Kowalick
January 15, 2018
A lawsuit was dismissed by District Judge David Evans in Tarrant County related to charges of sexual abuse by a now-deceased priest and a former principal of Notre Dame Middle/High School.
In March 2015, Jason Lloyd Montgomery filed the suit against the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth and Bishop Michael F. Olson, claiming he was sexually abused by the late Rev. John Sutton when he was a Notre Dame student in 1990-1992.
He later amended the suit adding a claim that the school’s principal at the time, Ron Staley, also sexually abused him.
The Fort Worth Diocese released a statement Wednesday saying they investigated the allegations and found no evidence to support the claims made in the lawsuit.
No other allegations of sexual misconduct have been made against Sutton or Staley.
Based on the lack of evidence, the diocese sought dismissal of the suit in August 2017. Summary judgement motions were heard Nov. 16, 2017, and a final judgment to dismiss the suit was made on Dec. 29, 2017.
Michael D. Anderson, partner with Kelly Hart & Hallman LLP, representing the diocese in this lawsuit, said, “There is no objective evidence whatsoever to corroborate Mr. Montgomery’s allegations of sexual abuse. Without supporting evidence, Mr. Montgomery’s abuse claims are barred by the statute of limitations.”
The dismissal states Montgomery could not produce any support for his claims against Sutton or Staley. He also did not have any evidence to support allegations that the two men had a propensity to sexually abuse minors that the diocese should have known about.
The release states that Rev. Sutton taught under contract at Notre Dame Middle/High School from 1984 to 1992. In 1992, he voluntarily left the diocese and worked as a priest at Sacred Heart Church in Cando, North Dakota. Sutton died in 2004.
The original 2015 lawsuit claimed Sutton made the plaintiff “pay penance” for copying school work by going with the priest to a small chapel in the school building where the priest allegedly sexually assaulted him.
The suit also claimed Sutton kept “sex toys” in a black bag that he would use to assault and torture the plaintiff. It goes on to claim the priest stuffed a towel in the boy’s mouth so his screams would not be heard.
Montgomery said when he told school staff about Sutton, he was removed from class and accused of selling LSD.
As an adult, Montgomery claims in the suit that he suffered a nervous breakdown and got in touch with the diocese’s victims assistant coordinator. He said that, rather than helping him, the diocese acted to keep him from seeking legal help.
The diocese states the statute of limitations ran out on the case before Montgomery contacted the diocese in 2013, and they deny claims that the case was “strung along” until the limitations period had passed.
The diocese’s statement said they continue to be “committed to providing a safe environment for parishes and ministers, particularly those for children and young people, and will reach out to those who have been abused and offer pastoral care or other assistance.”
Anyone who has witnessed or suffered sexual abuse by anyone who serves the Catholic church is urged to come forward. Reports of abuse can be made to the Texas Department of Family Protective Services (Child Protective Services) at 800-252-5400.
The diocese has set up a Diocesan Victims’ Assistance hotline at 817-945-9345, or a direct line at 817-602-5119.
Anyone who believes a crime has been committed should call the police immediately.