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3 Sex-Abuse Suits Filed Against Archdiocese

Apr 15, 2003 | The Courier-Journal Three new lawsuits were filed yesterday against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville, alleging sexual abuse more than 40 years ago by three priests, two of whom are dead.

Attorney Michael Slaughter, who represents two of the plaintiffs who filed yesterday, said each decided to sue after reading a Courier-Journal story last week that detailed memos written by Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly regarding a case involving the Rev. Thomas Creagh.

The memos, signed or initialed by Kelly in 1983, show that the archbishop worked to keep the case from becoming public.

In all, 237 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse have been filed against the archdiocese since April of last year. Five have been settled.

All three lawsuits filed yesterday argue that church officials knew or should have known of ongoing abuse by the priests and that the officials covered up allegations of abuse.

In responses to previous lawsuits making the same allegations, the archdiocese has denied any cover-up.

Spokeswoman Cecelia Price declined to comment on the new allegations, citing archdiocesan policy.

Here are details of the latest lawsuits:

Gerald Cox, whose address is listed as Fort Myers, Fla., accuses a ''Father Casper'' of abusing him in the rectory of Christ the King Church around 1955-56, according to the lawsuit and Slaughter.
The attorney said that although Cox couldn't recall Casper's first name, the lawsuit refers to the Rev. Thomas Casper, who died in 1991 and was named in a previous lawsuit against the archdiocese.

Cox's lawsuit said Casper was a ''substitute priest'' at Christ the King and a faculty member at the old Flaget High School.

Price said she could find no record yesterday of Casper's having been at Flaget or Christ the King between 1955 and 1957. He was ordained in 1956, according to an obituary published in The Courier-Journal.

Cox declined to comment when called for an interview. Slaughter said Cox, 62, ''has wrestled with this for years and years.''

Celestine Oerther Barnes accuses a ''Father Greenwell'' of abusing her in the early 1950s when she attended St. Raphael the Archangel School.

Slaughter said Barnes, 57, alleges that she was abused in a school restroom in about 1951, when she was a first-grader.

The Rev. George R. Greenwell, who died in 1996, was at St. Raphael during 1951-53.

Barnes could not be reached for comment.

William LaMaster Jr. accuses the Rev. Louis E. Miller of abusing him during 1960 and 1961, when he was a parishioner and student at the Church of the Holy Spirit and its school.
LaMaster, 52, could not be reached yesterday afternoon. His attorney, John D. Cox, said LaMaster was an altar boy and a schoolmate of some others from Holy Spirit who have filed suit against the archdiocese alleging abuse by Miller.

The lawsuit is the 90th to accuse Miller of abuse, more than twice the number of allegations against any other person in connection with the archdiocese to be named in the lawsuits since last April.

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the first published report of allegations of sexual abuse against Miller. Most of the lawsuits filed against the archdiocese since then argued that the plaintiffs' first knowledge of a cover-up by church officials was that story. The lawsuits argue a cover-up would delay legal limits on filing a lawsuit.

Slaughter declined to say the anniversary which arguably could be the deadline for lawsuits prompted the filing. But he noted, ''We think that the deadline is very soon.''

Attorney William McMurry, the attorney for most of the plaintiffs suing the archdiocese, has said the deadline could be the anniversary of the filing of the first lawsuit, which is Saturday.

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