Priest who Died in 1998 Accused of Sex Abuse in Suit

By Kevin Cole and Kristin Zagurski
Omaha World-Herald [Nebraska]
April 26, 2007

A former Nebraska man alleged in a lawsuit filed Wednesday against the Archdiocese of Omaha that he was the target of sexual abuse by a now-deceased Roman Catholic priest in the late 1970s.

Cary Claar, now of Springfield, Ore., alleges that the late Rev. Duane Lukes sexually abused him starting in 1978. Lukes is incorrectly listed as Duane Lucas in the court filing.

The lawsuit, filed by attorneys Maren Lynn Chaloupka and Kelly Clark in U.S. District Court, claims that Lukes "gained the trust, friendship, admiration and obedience of Claar."

Chaloupka, of Scottsbluff, Neb., said the sexual abuse began when Claar was 12 or 13 and continued for a period of almost three years.

The archdiocese knew or should have known Lukes was a pedophile and "made no meaningful effort" to restrict his access to children or monitor his behavior, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages "exceeding $75,000" for emotional pain and suffering, loss of foreseeable income, health care costs and court costs.

The Archdiocese did not respond to calls for comment Wednesday night and this morning.

According to the lawsuit:

Claar told a priest in 1990 about the assault, but the priest did not "recommend any form of counseling or mental health assistance."

In 2003, Claar told a priest in Springfield, Ore., of the alleged assault. The Portland Archdiocese informed the Omaha Archdiocese of the allegations in 2003 or 2004 and arranged for counseling.

Lukes died in 1998 at age 67, according to World-Herald archives.

The Laurel, Neb., native attended Conception College in Missouri and St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. He was ordained May 11, 1957.

During his tenure as a priest in Nebraska, he served at St. Stanislaus Parish in Omaha; St. Wenceslaus Parish in Dodge; St. Pius X Parish in Omaha; Holy Family Parish in Lindsay; St. Ann Parish in Omaha; Sacred Heart Parish in Norfolk; St. William Parish in Niobrara; St. Edward Parish in St. Edward; and St. Mary Parish in Osmond, World-Herald archives say.

Chaloupka said the alleged abuse occurred while Lukes was working in St. Edward.

A woman working the St. Edward Catholic Church office today said Lukes worked there from 1969 to 1981.

The Catholic Church in America has been rocked by charges of sexual abuse at the hands of priests since the mid- to late 1990s.

According to the U.S. Conference of Bishops' annual report, more than 13,000 molestation claims have been filed against clergy since 1950. Bishops say abuse-related costs have exceeded $1.5 billion.

Dioceses and religious orders paid nearly $399 million in 2006 for settlements with victims, attorney fees and support for accusers and offenders.


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