Lobbyist Sues Archdiocese, Alleging Sex Assault

By Ihosvani Rodriguez
San Antonio Express-News [Texas]
May 21, 2003

Prominent local lobbyist David L. Earl has filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of San Antonio claiming that a former local priest sexually assaulted him 25 years ago.

The lawsuit, which seeks an unspecified amount in damages, was filed two weeks ago. In the suit, Earl alleges that Father Donald Ruppert, then an associate pastor at St. Ann's Parish, repeatedly assaulted Earl when he was a teen.

Ruppert denies the allegations.

Earl says he suppressed memories of the assault until they "violently" resurfaced and led to his hospitalization Jan. 14, according to the lawsuit.

Earl declined comment, and his attorney said it was too early in the process to discuss the case.

"Right now the complaint speaks for itself," Earl's lawyer Stanley Bernstein said.

In the complaint, Earl's attorney says Ruppert befriended Earl and his parents as members of the church. Ruppert then served as St. Ann's counselor and teacher to the church's children and young adults.

The suit alleges multiple assaults that began around January 1978 and took place primarily in Ruppert's office.

Ruppert, who is listed as pastor at Holy Cross Catholic Church in East Bernard, near Houston, said the allegations are false.

"I was certainly very close friends with the family," he said. "I know in my heart that I did nothing improper with the person making this accusation."

Besides Ruppert, the suit names Archbishop Patrick Flores and claims the Archdiocese of San Antonio failed to adequately question and supervise the priest. Archdiocese officials said they could not comment on pending litigation.

A trial date to hear Earl's lawsuit has not been set.


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