Louisville Priest Retires Amid Abuse Allegation

Associated Press State & Local Wire
April 14, 2002

A Roman Catholic priest has retired following allegations he sexually abused minors in the 1960s and 1970s, a newspaper reported.

The Rev. Louis E. Miller, 71, had been barred from working with children since January 1990, a month after Archbishop Thomas Kelly received a complaint against him, said Brian Reynolds, chief administrative officer for the archdiocese.

He was working as a chaplain at a Louisville home for the elderly when he retired last month, Reynolds told The Courier-Journal.

Miller worked from the 1960s through the 1980s as an associate pastor or pastor at Holy Spirit, St. Athanasius, St. Elizabeth of Hungary in Louisville and St. Aloysius Church in Pewee Valley, St. Ann in Howardstown, and Our Lady of Mercy in Hodgenville. From 1963 to 1973, he also worked as a chaplain at SS. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital.

The archdiocese has refused to reveal specifics of the complaints it has received about Miller, or to say how many have been filed.

Criminal charges have never been filed against him, but he has been accused of abuse in two civil suits - one in 1990 and another in 1999.

In both suits, adults accused Miller of abusing them when they were minors. According to court records, Miller denied the charges, and both suits were settled out of court.

Reynolds said the archdiocese has no record of receiving complaints against Miller during the 1960s or 1970s - when the abuses allegedly occurred.

The archdiocese has never reported the complaints against Miller to police or prosecutors.

Reynolds said alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests often ask the church to keep their cases confidential, though he did not specify whether complainants against Miller made such requests.

Reynolds added the church cooperates with police when they look into a case.

"In the cases that have been brought to us involving" someone who is a child at the time the alleged abuse is reported, "we've always had the authorities involved," he said.

But he acknowledged, "we're talking about two archbishops ago. There weren't records on those kinds of things" in the decades before clerical sexual abuse became a major public issue.

Miller's case has come to light as the worldwide Roman Catholic Church is being shaken by reports of officials covering up the conduct of abusive priests.

As a result, some U.S. dioceses, notably New York and Boston, have decided to provide civil authorities with the name of any priest accused of abuse, including those in which the alleged victim is not currently a minor.

Jefferson County Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jeff Derouen said no organization should keep the crimes of its employees a secret.

"If there is any felony crime that has taken place in Jefferson County, we believe it should be reported," he said. "And we or the police will investigate."

He noted that there is no statute of limitations on felonies in Kentucky, meaning that serious cases of sexual molestation can be prosecuted even decades after the fact.

"Obviously it would be harder to prove if the felony is farther and farther (back) in time," he said. But "if there's enough evidence for a prosecutable offense, they should send the evidence to people who prosecute."

Until recently, Louisville had only two publicly known cases of clergy sexually abusing children - the convictions of a priest and a deacon in the 1980s.

Last month, a Carmelite priest who worked at St. Francis DeSales School in Louisville from 1966 to 1973 was fired as principal of a Los Angeles Catholic high school after allegations arose of sexual misconduct with teen-age boys in California and in five incidents in Louisville.


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