Man Alleges in Lawsuit That Priests Molested Him

Associated Press State & Local Wire
February 18, 2003

Two ex-Roman Catholic priests, including the brother of a prominent priest-abuse victims advocate, were sued Tuesday in U.S. District Court by a man who contends the men molested him for most of his childhood.

The alleged victim, identified in court documents as John Doe 70, said in a prepared statement provided by his attorneys that former priests Gary Pool and Kevin Clohessy sexually abused him during different periods from 1979 until 1993.

"These violations of trust and abuse on so many levels have impacted my life in ways I am just beginning to understand," said Doe, 28, who now lives in North Carolina.

Clohessy and Pool have not been criminally charged in the case.

Also named as plaintiffs in the case was the Diocese of Jefferson City, retired bishop Michael McAuliffe and Bishop John Gaydos, who heads the diocese.

Clohessy's brother, David Clohessy, is director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. He is estranged from his brother.

"My heart aches for this young man who has been so severely hurt. I hope taking action will be healing for him, as it is for so many survivors. Needless to say, my heart also aches for my family," David Clohessy said.

Doe said that as a result of the alleged abuse, "I have decided to do what I can do and take some action not just from a personal way of dealing with these violations but also to protect and bring about a greater awareness."

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, seeks unspecified damages for the emotional and psychological effects from the alleged abuse.

A woman who answered the phone at Pool's Jefferson City home said the former priest had no comment on the lawsuit. Clohessy, who lives 30 miles north of Jefferson City in Columbia, could not be located for comment. His phone number is not listed, and his brother did not know how to locate him

Doe said he was molested at Pool's home from 1979 to 1984 while a student and parishioner of Immaculate Conception Church and School in Jefferson City. Doe said when he told Clohessy of the abuse, he was molested by Clohessy until 1993.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Jefferson City did not comment on the allegations but instead issued a statement providing the backgrounds of both priests and acknowledging the lawsuit.

"Diocesan leaders urge anyone who may have suffered sexual abuse by a representative of the church to contact our chancellor," the statement said. "The response will be confidential and pastoral."

While there haven't been previous public allegations again Pool, Clohessy was accused in 1993 of molesting a male student while a priest. That allegation concerns Clohessy's assignment at a Catholic student center at what was then Northeast Missouri State University in Kirksville.

Clohessy resigned from active ministry in 2000 while Pool left the priesthood in 1993. Both priests named in the lawsuit attended St. Thomas Seminary in Hannibal.

The seminary closed last May after a 45-year run because of financial troubles, enrollment declines and recruiting hamstrung by sexual-abuse allegations against former rector Anthony O'Connell.

In March 2002, O'Connell resigned as bishop in Palm Beach, Fla., after published reports that the former St. Thomas rector sexually abused a student at the seminary in the 1970s.

Rebecca Randles, a Kansas attorney representing Doe, said the allegations show that the issue of clergy abuse can happen anywhere.

"These priests were homegrown priests," Randles told reporters outside the federal courthouse. "What were these people thinking that they could do this evil thing, and what was the diocese thinking that they didn't do anything about it? This is an issue we want parents and communities to understand that it could happen here and has happened here."


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