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9 More Sex-Abuse Lawsuits Filed

1 Priest Not Previously Accused In Claims Against Archdiocese

Jan 22, 2003 | The Courier- Nine more people have filed sex-abuse lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville, including a veteran Catholic schoolteacher who alleges that she was molested by a female sixth-grade teacher in 1963 and 1964.

Kathleen T. Breen, who is 52 and teaches at Assumption High School, contends in her suit that she reported the abuse to a school chaplain two years after it occurred, and gave him a ring that she said her alleged abuser had given her to memorialize their ''relationship.''

But Breen said no action apparently was taken against the woman, Patricia Brosmer, who went on to teach at a Catholic orphanage and two other Catholic schools, and was listed in the archdiocese's 2003 directory as a director of religious education at St. Rita Catholic Church.

Brosmer, who is now disabled, denies the allegations, said her caretaker, Theresa Johnson, who is a religious instruction director at St. Rita.

And Brian Reynolds, chancellor and chief administrative officer for the archdiocese, said Brosmer is not employed by St. Rita. Reynolds said the directory listing was a mistake that he cannot explain. ''We don't know'' why she was listed, Reynolds said.

The other plaintiffs who filed suit yesterday in Jefferson Circuit Court include a woman who claims she was six months pregnant when she was molested in a Reno, Nev., hospital by Monsignor Robert A. Bowling, a former Louisville priest who had moved there.

The woman alleges that when she pulled away from him and complained about what he'd done, Bowling said she could ''forget about'' having her baby baptized in any parish in Reno.

The complaints filed yesterday, which bring to 210 the number of lawsuits filed against the Louisville archdiocese, name one priest who hadn't previously been accused of misconduct and another who was previously accused only of verbal abuse. Three more lawsuits also were filed that named former Rev. Louis E. Miller, who has been accused of sexual abuse by 78 other plaintiffs and faces trial on criminal charges of abusing 26 children in Jefferson and Oldham counties.

Breen, who has taught in Catholic schools since 1974, including 16 years at Sacred Heart Academy, alleges she was 12 and in the seventh grade at St. John Vianney School when Brosmer molested her, then gave her a friendship ring.

In an interview, Breen alleged that Brosmer told her to keep the gift and the relationship a secret.

But in her suit, Breen says she reported the abuse about two years after the abuse ended to the Rev. John Hanrahan, who was then chaplain for Presentation Academy. Breen, then a ninth-grader at Presentation, said she approached Hanrahan after he spoke to students about ''the evils of homosexuality.''

''He told me not to worry about it,'' Breen recalled in an interview.

She said she gave Hanrahan the ring she'd been given and told him that Brosmer was working at the St. Thomas/St. Vincent Orphanage. She said she presumed nothing was done about her allegation because Brosmer went on to teach at other schools.

Hanrahan, who served as archdiocesan chancellor from 1966 to 1982, didn't return a message left for him yesterday. In a deposition in another case in October, Hanrahan said that he did nothing to investigate a parent's complaint that a priest had abused his son, and that he didn't report another priest who told him that he had molested some boys.

Breen said she decided to sue in part because the archdiocese didn't seem to know that Brosmer was still listed as an employee.

''I really do love the church, and I have spent my whole career promoting Catholic values,'' said Breen, a member of St. Pius X parish. ''I just want the church to change.''

Cecelia Price, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said Brosmer, now 67, worked as a teacher from 1958 to 1966 at St. Vianney; from 1966 to 1968 at the orphanage; from 1968 to 1970 at the old St. Aloysius school in Louisville; and from 1970 to 1972 at St. Rita.

Johnson, Brosmer's caretaker, said Brosmer suffers from Parkinson's disease and other infirmities, and is too sick to work.

''She is flabbergasted and said this is not true,'' Johnson said of the allegations.

As in the previous complaints, the lawsuits filed yesterday allege that the church knew about sex-abuse allegations against its priests and other employees and failed to report them to civil authorities or take disciplinary action against them.

In the lawsuit against Bowling, Theresa J. Brennan-Pettipas alleges she was pregnant and a patient at Reno's St. Mary's Hospital when the priest walked into her room, blessed her crucifix and then molested her. Bowling worked in Kentucky at St. Rita parish and two other assignments before moving in 1969 to Nevada. He was serving as pastor of the 3,500-family St. Therese Church of the Little Flower last year when the first sex-abuse allegations against him arose.

He denied the first allegations and was later unavailable for comment. He since has been suspended.

In the other lawsuits:

Kathleen Carla Huber alleges that in 1949 or 1950, when she was a fourth-grader at Holy Trinity Catholic School and feeling ''guilty and scared about emerging sexual feelings,'' she confessed to a Rev. Bernard Gallagher that she had touched herself, and he responded by molesting her.

Price said a Rev. John Donald Gallagher served as associate pastor at Holy Trinity from 1945 to 1951 and was at St. Barnabas when he died in 1968. He is not accused in any other suit.

Huber alleges that after her gradeschool confession, Gallagher had her return to the confessional, where he pulled down her panties, touched her and sodomized her, ''telling me how bad I was while he was doing this.'' Huber contends that she developed obsessive-compulsive disorders the next year, washing her hands sometimes as often as 20 times a day, and that she became fearful of religion.

Pat Lawrence alleges that when he was in the fourth and fifth grades at Holy Name School in the 1950s, he was molested by the Rev. C. Patrick Creed, a priest there. In a previous lawsuit that accused Miller of sexual abuse, a plaintiff accused Creed of verbally abusing him by making him feel guilty in confession when he told of an alleged incident that involved Miller.

Arthur G. Busch Jr., Neil A. Erny and Charles M. Kremer allege they were abused by Miller, who has been removed from ministry. Busch contends he was molested in 1964, when he was an altar boy at SS. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital, where Miller was a chaplain. Erny contends he was molested when he was an altar boy and a seventhand eighth-grader at St. Elizabeth of Hungary, where Miller was pastor. Kremer contends he was abused in 1959 when he was an altar boy at Holy Spirit Church, where Miller was associate pastor.

Thomas L. Weiter alleges that in 1965, when he was about 12 and attending St. Therese school and church, he was abused by the Rev. Edwin J. Scherzer. Scherzer, who served at St. Edward from 1956 to 1960 and at St. Therese from 1960 to 1969 and is now retired, was named in two previous lawsuits. He has declined to comment on those allegations, for which the archdiocese removed him from ministry.

Gary T. Compton alleges he was about 10 years old in 1963 when he was abused by the Rev. Arthur Wood at St. Elizabeth of Hungary, where Wood was associate pastor. Wood, who died in 1983 at age 59, was accused of abuse in 36 prior lawsuits.

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