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Attorney Sues Catholic Church Contending Sex Abuse

Apr 1, 2003 |

New allegations were leveled Monday at a priest accused of sexual molestation. An Oklahoma City attorney contends he was victimized in the mid 80s while living in Enid.

That attorney has now filed suit against the Oklahoma City archdiocese.

Philip Schovanec says his lawsuit was a last resort after he met with church officials twice with no results. On Monday, Schovanec’s attorney said the decision to make the suit public has been extremely difficult.

"We think the church has chosen to hide the fact they have a problem with a priest," said attorney Blanton Brown, who says he was forced to sue the archdiocese of Oklahoma City.

The lawsuit accuses a former priest who served in parishes in Enid and Alva of sexual abuse.

"My client is a successful attorney in Oklahoma City and frankly does not need this," Brown said.

According to the lawsuit, Schovenec was abused as a teenager, but remembered the abuse for the first time last year. Brown says his client immediately reported the abuse to the archdiocese only to be victimized again.

"We've been lied to about the fact there has been prior complaints the church knew about when we met with them, yet they lied to us and said there had never been any complaints," said Brown, who believes numerous other victims of the priest could come forward. Brown says he's hoping the catholic church will do the right thing and admit the problem.

"And say, we know this did happen we admit it happened we know it happened let's make it right. And let's work this out," he said.

Brown says he wants two things to come from the lawsuit. He says the ordeal has been costly for his client and he'd like to recoup those expenses.
He's also asking that the archdiocese publicly release all the names of Oklahoma priests ever accused of sexual abuse and the status of those claims.

The priest in question is now living in Kansas. In a statement, the archdiocese of Oklahoma City says the priest "asserts that he is completely innocent of this allegation."

The archdiocese also says pastoral care has been offered to the person filing the complaint.

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