Millville Man Files Suit, Claims Abuse by Priests

By Renee Winkler
April 1, 2005

The Diocese of Camden ignored priests who sexually abused young boys, a Millville man claims in a lawsuit.

Darren K. Leibow, 28, alleges he was sexually assaulted between 1986 and 1992, when he was an altar boy at Our Lady of the Lakes mission church in Collings Lake. He says he repressed the memories because of threats by one of the former priests, James R. Ryan, who is now dead.

The lawsuit, filed this week in Superior Court in Camden, lists as defendants the diocese, present and former bishops, one former priest and the estates of two others. In addition to Ryan, individual clergy named in the lawsuit are John P. Kelly, also deceased, and Timothy E. Pisik, who served a state prison term for sexual assault.

Leibow is represented by Edward J. Ross, whose law firm handled the 1994 civil cases against the diocese.

The earlier lawsuits, filed by men who claimed they were sexually assaulted by 15 Camden area priests, were dismissed because they were filed too late. However, the diocese paid $880,000 to those individual plaintiffs.

Leibow is trying to overcome the statute of limitations by raising the issue of repressed memory.

Filled with specific references to alleged sexual acts by the three priests, the lawsuit says some of the acts were "indistinguishable one from the other."

He claims Ryan threatened his safety and that of his family if he told anyone about the sexual assaults. The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages for emotional distress, personal injury, diminished childhood, and the inability to engage in normal sexual development and activities.

By keeping the identity of pedophiles secret, the lawsuit states, the church avoided scandal which would have had an adverse impact on its revenues.


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