Suit Filed Against City's Archdiocese

By Nick Trougakos
Daily Oklahoman [Oklahoma City, OK]
April 1, 2003

A civil lawsuit was filed Monday against the Oklahoma City Archdiocese that claims a teenager was sexually abused by a Roman Catholic priest 20 years ago and that church officials ignored complaints of the alleged abuse.

Philip Schovanec filed the lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court.

The lawsuit names the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, Archbishop Eusebius J. Beltran and former priest David B. Imming as defendants.

Imming was the priest and pastor of St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church in Enid and later was pastor of a Catholic church in Alva.

The lawsuit alleges Imming sexually abused Schovanec from 1982 to 1984. It also alleges Imming provided Schovanec, who was 13 years old in 1982, with alcohol and carried out the acts of sexual abuse at the priest's parsonage and at Imming's parents' home.

Beltran was named Oklahoma City archbishop in 1995.

The Rev. Edward J. Weisenburger, archdiocese spokesman, said in a release that Imming maintains his innocence.

Schovanec's attorney, H. Blanton Brown, said his client filed the lawsuit because the church refused to address his complaints about Imming.

"Rather than act responsibly in responding to Mr. Schovanec's decision to come forward ... Catholic officials have repeatedly lied to and belittled Mr. Schovanec," Brown said in a release. "He has essentially been victimized all over again."

The lawsuit states that Schovanec repressed memories of the abuse until April 2002, when he "recalled for the first time the abuse he suffered at the hands of Imming."

According to the lawsuit, Imming left the church in Alva in 2001.

Weisenburger said the archdiocese had not seen the lawsuit.


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