13 More Lawsuits Allege Sex Abuse
Archdiocese Is Accused in 146 Claims since April

By Peter Smith
Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
June 27, 2002

Thirteen more lawsuits were filed yesterday against the Archdiocese of Louisville, alleging sexual abuse by nine priests.

The cases bring to 146 the number of lawsuits filed against the Roman Catholic archdiocese since April 19, alleging past abuse by 20 current, former or deceased priests as well as a teacher and two religious brothers.

One of the suits filed yesterday for the first time names the Rev. J. Irvin Mouser, who was placed on leave last month from his assignments at two Nelson County parishes after another person brought a complaint directly to the archdiocese.

Another plaintiff alleges abuse by two now-deceased priests who worked at the Cathedral of the Assumption in the 1960s, the Revs. Thomas Casper and Linus T. Giesler. Neither has been named in any other lawsuits, and the archdiocese says it has no record of any complaints against them.

Four more plaintiffs alleged abuse by the Rev. Louis E. Miller - now named in 59 lawsuits this year as well as a 42-count criminal indictment, charging sexual abuse, that was announced yesterday. One of those plaintiffs also alleges abuse by the late Rev. Arthur L. Wood, also accused in two other lawsuits filed yesterday and 31 overall.

Four other priests named in previous lawsuits were accused in new cases filed yesterday.

Lawsuits give only one side of a case.

Brian Reynolds, chief administrative officer for the archdiocese, declined to comment on the merits of the cases.

Today, lawyers for the archdiocese, the plaintiffs and The Courier-Journal are expected to argue in court about the archdiocese's efforts to have the lawsuits sealed from public view under a state statute.

Reynolds said the cases naming deceased priests yesterday show why the archdiocese is making that move.

"Here their names are brought out in public before any evidence has been brought forward," he said. "That is the reason why we have appealed that the law be applied in these cases."

All of the lawsuits were filed by attorney William McMurry, who is representing most of the other plaintiffs suing the archdiocese.

In one lawsuit, Dennis Grismer of Jefferson County alleges he was abused by Mouser around 1968 when Grismer was 13 and Mouser was a priest at St. Helen Church in Louisville.

On May 31, Archbishop Thomas Kelly announced he was placing Mouser on leave after a person brought an accusation directly to the archdiocese. Reynolds said that accuser, whom the archdiocese has not identified, was not Grismer.

Mouser had worked as an assistant at St. Thomas and St. Monica parishes in Bardstown. He has been ordered to refrain from public ministry pending an investigation.

Grismer said in an interview that he told his mother of the abuse at the time but no one else and that, to his knowledge, she did not tell church authorities. He said it was difficult at that time to "go against the community" by bringing such an allegation.

Mouser did not reply to a telephone message seeking comment. An outgoing message on his answering machine said he was away.

In another case, John C. Mills of New Albany, Ind., alleges he was molested by Giesler and Casper in the 1960s, when he lived in the downtown neighborhood of the Cathedral of the Assumption.

Mills said in an interview that he was befriended by another priest at the cathedral and began serving as an altar boy. He said the abuse occurred in places such as the cathedral sacristy and a residence.

"I didn't come forward for monetary reasons but to bring closure to it," he said.

Giesler, who died in 1999, was pastor of the cathedral from 1956 to 1966.

Casper was an assistant pastor there from 1963 to 1981 and was also the superintendent of Catholic schools in the archdiocese from 1967 to 1974, Reynolds said. He also served as the first civilian personnel director of the Louisville police department from 1974 to 1982, and he served as pastor of St. Rita Church from 1986 until his death in 1991.

In other lawsuits:

* James Mudd alleges he was abused by Miller at St. Aloysius Church in Pewee Valley and by Wood at St. Ignatius Church and at SS. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital, where Wood worked as chaplain.

* Jeffrey A. Rice, who McMurry says is not Catholic, alleges he was abused by Miller while a member of a Boy Scout troop directed by Miller at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church in the late 1970s. Rice says he was about 10 or 11 at the time, according to the suit.

* In other suits involving Miller, Paul A. Dittmeier alleges abuse at St. Aloysius Church in the 1970s and Craig Edward Koch at Holy Spirit Church in the 1960s.

Miller has denied allegations of abuse in past lawsuits.

* In other suits involving Wood, John Beamon alleges he was abused at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church in the 1960s, while Mark A. Mays alleges Wood molested him at St. Ignatius Church in 1972.

Wood died in 1983.

* Kathleen M. Willenbrink Kearney and Ann Willenbrink Lockwood allege they were molested by the Rev. Kevin Cole between 1962 and 1965, when they were between 5 and 8 years old.

Cole, a Conventual Franciscan priest who died in 1990, worked at the time at Bellarmine College, which was then owned by the archdiocese. He has now been named in five suits.

* Lawrence G. Thompson alleges he was molested by the Rev. James Hargadon in the 1970s on a camping trip at Rough River and at the rectory of St. Polycarp Church. Hargadon, who is now named in four suits, retired from the ministry after surgery earlier this year. Hargadon did not return a voice-mail message seeking comment yesterday evening.

* Mark Stephen Garrett alleges he was molested on several occasions between 1960 and 1963 by the Rev. Daniel Emerine, a Conventual Franciscan priest who died in 1986. Emerine was also accused in two lawsuits earlier this month.

* Mary Clayton Sims alleges she was molested by the Rev. Robert A. Bowling in the early 1960s at Holy Cross Church in Loretto, Ky.

Bowling, now on leave from his role as pastor of a Reno, Nev., church, has been named in six lawsuits and has denied all allegations of abuse.

As with all the lawsuits filed this year, the cases allege without evidence that the archdiocese knew of the priests' abusive tendencies but did not report abuse to authorities or do anything to prevent the abuse. None of the priests are named as defendants.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.