Archdiocese Faces 8 More Lawsuits Alleging Priests Abused Children

By Gregory A. Hall
Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
May 18, 2002

Eight more lawsuits were filed against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville yesterday, bringing to 75 the number of suits alleging that clergy or employees abused children.

All of yesterday's lawsuits were filed in Jefferson Circuit Court by clients of attorney William McMurry and involve priests mentioned in previous suits.

None of the priests is charged as a defendant, and the complaints present only one side of the case.

The complaints say that the archdiocese knew or should have known of alleged abuse involving the priests, and they allege that the archdiocese was negligent by employing a known abuser.

Cecelia Price, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, declined to comment on the new allegations, citing archdiocesan policy.

Four of yesterday's lawsuits involve the late Rev. Arthur L. Wood.

William T. Ford says that in 1972, when he was about 11 and attending St. Ignatius School, Wood sexually abused him.

Michael A. Sauer says that in 1966, when he was about 13 and a student at St. Polycarp School, Wood molested him.

Richard A. Sweazy says that Wood sexually abused him around 1966 when he was about 11 and attending St. Polycarp School.

James L. Atcher Sr. says that in 1970, when he was about 12, Wood "lured" him into St. Martin of Tours, where Wood was assigned, and sexually abused him.

Two lawsuits involve the Rev. Louis E. Miller, who retired earlier this year. He could not be reached for comment yesterday but has previously denied other allegations of abuse.

Mark S. Gardner, now 41 and a former altar boy at St. Aloysius Church, says that Miller sexually abused him while he was a passenger in the priest's car in the mid- to late 1970s.

Geoffrey C. Schilling, now 53, says that in the early 1960s, when he served as an altar boy at Holy Spirit Church, Miller molested him.

One of the lawsuits involves the Rev. Joseph Herp, who resigned last week as pastor at St. Leonard after an allegation of abuse was presented to the archdiocese. Herp is unavailable for comment, Price said.

John S. Vandeveer, now 38, says that around 1975, Herp invited him to spend the night in the priest's sleeping quarters at the St. Ann Church rectory, where Herp sexually abused the boy.

The other lawsuit filed yesterday involves the Rev. Daniel C. Clark, who pleaded guilty in 1988 to sexual abuse and sodomy. Clark has been removed from ministry.

Christopher M. Phillips, now 34, says that in 1981 and 1982 Clark abused him when he was a parishioner at St. Rita Church and Clark was assigned there. Also, Phillips' lawsuit says that Clark, between 1983 and 1985, invited Phillips to sleep at the St. John Vianney Church rectory and "on numerous such occasions" molested Phillips.

Several motions are scheduled to be heard on Monday or will be presented, McMurry said.

The archdiocese wants the sexabuse cases sealed under a state law.

Also, McMurry said he is seeking to have all the cases consolidated before one judge.

Normally, cases would be consolidated in the court where the first action was filed. In this case, that would be before Judge F. Kenneth Conliffe.

However, McMurry is asking Conliffe to recuse himself because he is related by marriage to one of McMurry's clients. McMurry wants the cases consolidated in the court where the second case was filed, which would be Judge Barry Willett's court.

In another matter, Archbishop Thomas Kelly wrote to parishioners of St. Patrick Church yesterday, discussing the case of the Rev. James Hargadon, a retired priest who was working as a senior associate there.

Hargadon was accused of sexual abuse in a lawsuit filed Thursday.

Kelly wrote that Hargadon is recovering from surgery and had already planned not to return to work at St. Patrick, Price said. She said the archdiocese has no record of any other complaints against Hargadon.


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