Church Sex-Abuse Suit Filed

By John Tuohy
Indianapolis Star
February 6, 2004

A 57-year-old man is suing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis, alleging that he was sexually abused repeatedly as a child by a priest.

The lawsuit comes a day after the archdiocese issued a report saying that 20 priests had been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors since 1950.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Marion Superior Court, contends that the Rev. William Blackwell committed the abuse while he was a teacher at St. Mary School in Richmond from 1957 to 1961.

The alleged victim, identified only as Robert M. to protect his privacy, was an altar boy for Blackwell and a student in his Latin and theology classes.

Robert M. alleges he was abused at several locations, including the church rectory and at Blackwell's parents' home in Marion County.

Robert M. never reported the abuse to anyone outside the church. He is seeking unspecified damages.

He now maintains that he suffers from psychological damage, shock, emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, disgrace, humiliation and "loss of enjoyment of life," according to the legal filing.

Robert M.'s lawyer, Eric Allan Koch, of Bloomington, could not be reached for comment.

The archdiocese and Blackwell also could not be reached.

The archdiocese report that was released Wednesday revealed that the 20 priests who allegedly committed abuse have all resigned, died or been removed from their jobs. None of the abuses occurred in the past 10 years, the report said.

Twelve lay people working for the church also had been credibly accused of committing abuse, the report said. None is still working for the archdiocese.

David Clohessy, national director for a victims advocacy group, called the report "a tiny step toward more of the long buried, shameful truth."

"It's dangerous and naive to think they've suddenly decided to come clean," said Clohessy, of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. "Most bishops remain committed to damage control rather than genuine outreach and prevention."

CORRECTION: The original published version of this story contained an error which has been corrected in the archive. See published correction 02/07/2004.

Call Star reporter John Tuohy at (317) 444-6418 or JOHN.TUOHY@INDYSTAR.COM.


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