Two More Suits Allege Abuse by Louisville Priests

By Gregory Hall
Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
May 10, 2003

Two more lawsuits were filed yesterday against the Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville alleging sexual abuse by priests, and the plaintiffs' attorney said he hopes his clients can be included in a class-action settlement negotiation.

In one lawsuit, Matthew L. Kaelin alleges that the Rev. Louis E. Miller abused him. Miller has been accused of abuse in 92 civil lawsuits and has pleaded guilty to 50 criminal counts of sexual abuse involving 21 children.

Kaelin alleges that Miller abused him in 1966, while Kaelin, now 50, was visiting his comatose and paralyzed 11-year-old brother at SS. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital.

The second lawsuit, filed by Pamela Tapp Rossmann, alleges that the Rev. "Joseph Reeves" abused her between 1962 and 1964 at her home when she was a student at St. Frances of Rome.

Cecelia Price, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said that a Rev. Joseph J. Rives was assigned to that parish from July 1956 until 1964. He died in 1971.

She declined to comment on the allegations in either lawsuit, citing an archdiocesan policy.

Yesterday's lawsuits bring the number filed against the archdiocese in the last 13 months to 249. Six have been settled.

The new lawsuits are the first since Jefferson Circuit Judge James M. Shake issued an order last month grouping the cases filed as of April 23 as a class for the purpose of negotiating a settlement.

"I expect these to be dropped into the class action," said David Vish, the attorney representing both plaintiffs who filed yesterday.

Price said archdiocesan officials would need to speak with the plaintiffs' lawyers before commenting on whether they could be added to the class.

William McMurry, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the class who has filed 214 of the suits, said he would not object to the new plaintiffs being added.

"Obviously the archdiocese and Vish could agree to include them in the class if they so desired, " McMurry said.

Plaintiffs have until May 30 to opt out of the class and pursue individual claims.


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