Judge Joins Priest Abuse LawsuitMay 4, 2003 | AP
Ten people, including a judge, have joined a lawsuit that accuses the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis of failing to protect them for a priest who allegedly sexually abused them in their youth.
The lawsuit claims the Rev. Albert Deery, who died in 1972, molested them as students during the 1950s and 1960s.
It contends that the archdiocese failed both to discipline Deery and warn students, their parents and others about the alleged molestations.
Greg Otolski, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said Saturday that the church has no comment on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed Sept. 6 in Clark Circuit Court by a woman identified in court documents only by the pseudonym Jane Doe.
The now 11 plaintiffs contend that Deery molested them while they attended St. Augustine Catholic Elementary School in Jeffersonville in the 1950s and 1960s.
They have asked the court to certify their lawsuit as a class action, saying they want it to represent all who attended the school and parish between 1942 and 1972 "and who were subjected to tortuous and criminal actions by Father Albert Deery."
One of the new plaintiffs in the lawsuit is Clark County Superior Court Judge Steven Fleece.
Fleece told The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky. for a story today that he initially did not intend to join the lawsuit.
"There was a bit of prayer involved," in his decision to come forward, Fleece said.
He said he finally decided that "maybe me joining that would keep other people from feeling intimidated about coming forward."
In a response to written questions by archdiocese lawyers, Fleece described in court documents an incident in which Deery fondled his genitals in 1959, when he was a 9-year-old altar boy.
The answers Fleece and other plaintiffs provided to defense attorneys in February give the first details of the alleged abuse.
Plaintiff Ronald Meadows, an electrician who lives in Prospect, Ky., said in written answers to questions from the archdiocese's lawyers that he was abused by Deery when he was 6 to 10 years old.
"Father Deery would come and get me out of class or off the playground and take me to the rectory" where the priest lived, Meadows wrote, according to the court file.
"I performed oral sex on Father Deery and Father Deery performed oral on me. Father Deery also committed anal sodomy on me with his finger, and there was mutual fondling by hand both ways," according to the court file.
Meadows claims the abuse took place on a weekly basis.
"I eventually set the gym on fire in an effort to get thrown out of St. Augustine School," he told the lawyers. "That worked and I was transferred to" another school.
Lawyers for both sides are due in court Monday for a hearing on a motion by the archdiocese to force the plaintiffs to provide more information.