Former Employees Sue Diocese of Covington; Claim Abuse

Associated Press State & Local Wire
June 25, 2002

A 44-year-old Burlington man claims in a lawsuit that he was sexually abused in the 1970s by a now-deceased priest and in the 1980s by a Lexington bishop who resigned this month.

Diocese of Covington groundskeeper Mark DiMuzio and his father, John DiMuzio, 64, who was a maintenance director for the diocese for 42 years, also say in a lawsuit filed against the diocese last week in Kenton County Circuit Court that they were exposed to a "sexually charged workplace."

The two said the diocese fired them when they complained earlier this year.

"What happened here has happened to so many others, and we feel that we have information from inside the diocese that could help so many others," said Mark DiMuzio in a statement released by his attorney, Barbara D. Bonar, of Covington.

The Rev. Gerald Reinersman, the diocese chancellor, said the DiMuzios did bring allegations of sexual abuse to him in March of this year.

"When the allegations were brought to me, I responded to them appropriately," Reinersman said.

The lawsuit claims Mark DiMuzio was physically and sexually abused while he was an altar boy in 1971 by the Rev. Paul Ciangetti at Mary Queen of Heaven in Erlanger. Ciangetti died in 1995.

Reinersman said he took the complaint to the diocese's misconduct committee and told members he had started counseling DiMuzio. The committee decided since Ciangetti was dead, there was nothing more that could be done.

Mark DiMuzio also claims in the lawsuit to have been sexually abused while he was a maintenance worker in 1986 and 1987 by former Bishop J. Kendrick Williams. Williams resigned earlier this month as head of the Diocese of Lexington after similar allegations were raised about his tenure as a priest in Louisville.

The lawsuit states that Williams, who was an auxiliary bishop at the time of the alleged abuse, "made sexual demands through the form of letters, cards and innuendoes."

Reinersman said he did not take action regarding that claim because DiMuzio was an adult when the alleged abuse occurred.

"He was an adult and what was presented to me did not seem in any way a molestation or abusive," Reinersman said in an interview Tuesday.

Prior to becoming bishop in Lexington, Williams served four years in Covington, performing administrative duties. Williams was promoted as founding bishop of the Lexington diocese in 1988. He has denied all the allegations.

Reinersman also said the workplace environment described by the father and son was not accurate and the two were never fired from the diocese.

"They are absolutely not fired," he said. "There is no connection between the allegations he (Mark DiMuzio) brought forth and his leaving the diocese."

John DiMuzio is currently receiving workers' compensation after injuring himself while working for the diocese on May 2, according to Reinersman.

Reinersman said the two made no complaints to him regarding abuse or their workplace environment prior to the discussion in March.

Parts of the lawsuit have been sealed under a state statute that says any suits involving childhood sexual abuse must be sealed by the court if the allegations are made more than five years after the abuse occurred.

On Thursday, a Jefferson County judge will hear arguments regarding the sealing of more than 100 lawsuits filed against the Archdiocese of Louisville. A newspaper and attorneys for the plaintiffs claim the statute is unconstitutional. The hearing will be held in Jefferson County Circuit Court.


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