Man Alleges Sex Assault by Priest in '82

By Pat Schneider
Capital Times
February 18, 1994

The Madison Catholic diocese is likely to "circle the wagons and fight to the death" an Eau Claire man's claim that he was sexually molested by a parish priest a dozen years ago, the man's attorney says.

The 26-year-old man filed a lawsuit Thursday in Dane County Circuit Court, charging that Rev. Michael Trainor molested him during the summer of 1982 in the rectory of St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 602 Everglade Dr.

The diocese had had complaints of inappropriate sexual conduct by Trainor before 1982, said Robert Elliott, the Milwaukee attorney who is representing the unnamed plaintiff.

Diocesan representatives did not return telephone calls from The Capital Times for comment.

Trainor left Madison in 1982 and his whereabouts are unknown.

Parish officials knew or should have known of Trainor's "pedophile compulsion," the lawsuit charges, and should have removed him.

The parish also failed to adequately screen or supervise Trainor, counsel and treat him, or prevent his unsupervised contact with minors, the lawsuit charges.

The lawsuit also claims that the diocese, after it learned of Trainor's alleged assaults on the boy, failed to provide proper care and treatment of his mental and emotional problems.

Trainor abused his authority and influence as a priest to "coerce, cajole and emotionally overpower" the teenager, who was convinced that the priest's actions and advice were those established by the church and were beyond reproach, the suit says.

Trainor allegedly relied upon the threat of holy condemnation to prevent the boy from reporting the alleged assaults, according to the lawsuit.

The alleged victim is seeking unspecified punitive damages against the diocese, the parish and Trainor.

The psychological distress caused by the alleged assaults - and the coping methods subsequently developed by the boy - made him unable to perceive the existence, nature or cause of his injuries until March 1993, the lawsuit says.

That's when the clock on the statute of limitations - two years against Trainor, three years against the diocese - starts ticking, Elliott said.

Elliott distinguished this type of case from those involving repressed memory.

"Typically, the individual has always remembered the event and has tried not to think about it. They also know there have been problems in their lives, but no one has made the link for them between their problems and what occurred as a child," Elliott said.


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