110M Suit Charges Sex Abuse by Priest
By Salvatore Arena and Owen Moritz
New York Daily News
July 3, 1998
A Bronx man, charging he was sexually harassed as a youth by a priest six years ago, has filed a $110 million sexual abuse and malpractice suit against the Archdiocese of New York. Luis Guzman, 23, alleges he was assaulted and sexually molested by the Rev. Henry Mills after going to him for counseling in 1992. Mills, who could not be reached for comment, was the assistant pastor of Christ the King Church in the Bronx in 1992 when the incidents allegedly occurred. Guzman's suit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, also charges that the archdiocese engaged in a coverup and reneged on a promise to provide psychological help. Guzman said Mills gave him liquor, engaged in sex acts and kept him in line by threatening to reveal "confidential information that he learned during counseling.
" In court papers, the archdiocese denied the allegations, but said that if anything occurred, it was "consensual sex.
" Yesterday, Cusack and Stiles, the archdiocese's law firm, said, "We do not talk about any pending cases.
" The lawsuit also charges church officials with a pattern of "stonewalling" after Guzman met in 1996 with Msgr. Edward O'Donnell, vice chancellor for priest personnel, and at his request underwent psychological evaluation aimed at settling the case. Church officials historically have resolved sexual-abuse suits against priests by settling out of court rather than going to trial. In a notorious incident of clerical molestation, a dozen youths who said they were abused by a priest in Orange County from 1983 to 1991 filed lawsuits against the archdiocese. The Rev. Edward Pipala pleaded guilty in 1994 to multiple criminal counts of sexual abuse and was sentenced to eight years in prison. In pleading guilty, Pipala admitted to forming Boys Clubs in both churches and of engaging in sex with most of the members, some as young as 12. Since then, the archdiocese, through its insurers, has paid out more than $3 million to resolve the cases, settling all but one so far, according to records and legal sources. "If the Church doesn't do something quick to root out this problem, it is going to sink under the weight of these lawsuits," said Manhattan negligence lawyer Pamela Liapakis, whose firm has represented a number of alleged victims of clerical abuse.