Judge Delays Trial in Priest Abuse Case

Legal Intelligencer
March 16, 1994

The trial of a Philadelphia man's $ 10 million lawsuit accusing a Roman Catholic priest of sexual abuse has been postponed two weeks.

U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel on Monday granted a delay from May 9 to May 23 of Steven Cook's lawsuit against the Rev. Ellis Harsham, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and archdiocesan officials.

Spiegel's order gave no reason for the delay. But Cook's lawyer, Stephen Rubino, of Ventnor, N.J., said lawyers for all parties agreed to the delay because Harsham's attorney, Thomas Miller, has had back surgery that could keep him off the job for several weeks.

Miller was recuperating Monday from the March 4 surgery, said Kelly Johnson, another of Harsham's lawyers.

Cook alleged in his Nov. 12 lawsuit that Harsham sexually abused him from 1975 to 1977 when Cook was a high school student attending classes at St. Gregory Seminary in Cincinnati. Cook's lawsuit accuses the archdiocese and church officials of permitting the abuse by not adequately supervising Harsham.

Cook's lawsuit said he only recently began recalling repressed memories of the alleged abuse.

But on Feb. 28, Cook said he dropped Chicago Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, a former Cincinnati archbishop, as a defendant in the lawsuit because his memories of alleged abuse by Bernardin wee not reliable. Bernardin said he was blameless.

The remaining defendants also have said they did nothing wrong. Harsham lives in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek and works in the campus ministry program at Wright State University.


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