13 More Sex Abuse Suits Filed
Southern Indiana Franciscan Order Is New Defendant

By Peter Smith Peter
July 31, 2002

Thirteen more people sued the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville yesterday, alleging sexual abuse by eight priests and employees between the 1950s and 1980s, including one former priest accused for the first time in a suit.

Also for the first time, the archdiocese is not alone as a defendant.

A Conventual Franciscan order based in Southern Indiana - whose members serve in Kentucky and other nearby states - has been named along with the archdiocese in a suit that alleges sexual abuse by a friar who formerly worked at a Louisville parish.

The lawsuits bring the number of legal claims filed since April to 169, alleging past sexual abuse by 24 priests, two religious brothers and two parochial school teachers. In all but one of the suits, the archdiocese is the sole defendant.

But one of the lawsuits filed yesterday, on behalf of Scott Lester Reed, names both the Conventual Franciscans and the archdiocese as defendants. The lawsuit faults both for abuse allegedly committed by Brother Francis Dominic in the early 1970s at Our Lady of Consolation Church in Louisville.

This is the fourth lawsuit to accuse Dominic of abuse while he was assigned to Consolation parish. Two deceased Franciscan priests are also named in multiple lawsuits against the archdiocese - Kevin Cole in five and Daniel Emerine in five, including one filed yesterday.

Attorney William McMurry, who represents most of the 169 plaintiffs, said he intends to amend the other suits involving Franciscans to include the order as a defendant.

The defendants named in the lawsuits are the Province of Our Lady of Consolation - the name of an eight-state Franciscan region based in Mount St. Francis, Ind. - as well as the Mount St. Francis Sanctuary, which a spokesman for the order says is actually a nature preserve.

Brother Robert Baxter said he could not comment on the suit because he only learned about it late yesterday from a reporter and has not seen it yet.

Claims made in filing a lawsuit give only one side of the case.

Another lawsuit yesterday names, for the first time, a priest of another religious order who formerly served in Louisville, Theodore Meisner.

In his lawsuit, Sean J. McCulloch alleges that Meisner molested him in 1981 when he was about 13 years old and seeking counseling.

This is the first lawsuit to accuse Meisner of sexual abuse. Brian Reynolds, chief administrative officer of the archdiocese, said church officials do not have a personnel file on Meisner, who was in the area many years ago, but he was unaware of any other allegations against Meisner.

Meisner, a Louisville native, was ordained in 1957 and served in several locations before leaving the Canada-based Congregation of the Resurrection in 1989.

"That's definitely not true," he said of the allegations in a phone interview from his home in Macon, Ga. "I was counseling him, that's for sure. I never even touched the kid."

Asked if he had ever been accused of abuse before, Meisner said one of the reasons he left the priesthood in 1989 was that, while working in Canada, "a very close friend of mine knew that I needed counseling for affection, and in order to make sure that my superiors followed through with that, she threatened to accuse me of sexually molesting her children. That wasn't true either, but that certainly got the (order's) authorities' attention."

He said the woman never followed through on the accusations, which he also said were false. He said he benefited greatly from counseling and is better able to forge relationships.

Meisner said he now works part time as a computer assistant with a Georgia agency dealing with migrant workers' health issues.

McCullogh, in an interview, said he filed suit because the case has "been eating at me" for a long time.

McCullogh, now 33, said he spent some time in youth homes such as Boy's Haven and Spring Meadow and that he was brought to Meisner for counseling, where he alleges he was fondled.

McCullogh said he told his aunt afterward that he never wanted to go back to Meisner but that he didn't tell her exactly why.

In other lawsuits filed against the archdiocese yesterday:

-- John J. Davis accused Joseph B. Greene III, a former parochial school teacher, of sexually molesting him in the 1970s, when Greene taught at Ascension School and Davis was a seventh-grader.

Greene, who is now named in two lawsuits, has pleaded innocent to 14 counts of sodomy and four counts of first-degree sexual abuse. The archdiocese suspended him after his arrest and did not renew his contract, according to Reynolds.

-- Two people accused the Rev. Robert Bowling of sexual abuse in the early 1960s at Holy Cross Church in Loretto, Ky. The plaintiffs are identified as Wahseka Corbett Elliott and Luana Borders Hester. Bowling, now named in eight lawsuits, is on leave from his job as a pastor in Reno, Nev., where he moved in 1969. Bowling has denied previous accusations of abuse.

-- George Clay Soete accused Emerine of sexual abuse "on several occasions" between 1954 and 1955 while at St. Paul Church.

-- Two more people accused the Rev. Louis E. Miller, who retired and was removed from ministry earlier this year. Miller is now named in 65 suits and has pleaded innocent to criminal charges in Jefferson and Oldham counties, alleging abuse from the 1950s to the 1980s.

In suits filed yesterday, Warren J. White accused Miller of abuse at Holy Spirit Church in the early 1960s, while Scott D. Hess accused him of abuse in the late 1980s at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church.

-- Two men accused the late Rev. Arthur L. Wood of abuse in the early 1960s at St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Wood, who died in 1983, is now accused in 33 suits.

-- Three men accused the Rev. J. Irvin Mouser of abuse in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when they were teenagers. Mouser, who was placed on leave from his jobs at two Bardstown parishes earlier this year, is now accused in five suits. He could not be reached last night.

Mark G. Stanley, Daniel R. Hadorn and J. Lee Money each alleged separate incidents in which Mouser took them to a drive-in theater, got them intoxicated and sexually molested them.




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