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Louisville Priest Faces Another Sex Abuse Suit

Nov 1, 2002 | The Courier-Journal A Bullitt County woman has sued a Catholic priest and the Archdiocese of Louisville on behalf of her two sons, alleging the Rev. Daniel Clark molested the boys between 1998 and this year.

Although the lawsuit is currently sealed, the boys are the same ones Clark is accused of abusing in a criminal indictment issued in August by a Bullitt County grand jury, according to John Cox, lawyer for their mother.

The lawsuit, which names Clark as well as the archdiocese as defendants, was filed in Jefferson Circuit Court.

Clark has pleaded innocent to the criminal charges. He is being held at the Bullitt County jail on $500,000 bond on the current charges.

Clark, who was convicted in 1988 of abusing two boys, is also accused in 18 pending lawsuits of abusing boys he met while working as a priest in the 1980s. In all, the archdiocese faces 196 suits alleging abuse by 31 priests and others connected with the archdiocese.

Cox filed the lawsuit Friday under seal because the two boys are still juveniles, and Jefferson Circuit Judge Lisabeth Hughes Abramson approved the sealing of the document Monday.

But attorney Jon Fleischaker of The Courier-Journal, which gained status as an intervenor in the abuse cases when it opposed an earlier effort to seal the litigation, said he would ask the court to open the file.

Cox said he would agree to the unsealing of the suit, acknowledging that a state statute on sealing sex-abuse lawsuits does not apply in this case.

Clark, who was ordained in 1980, served a 90-day prison sentence and was placed on 15 years' probation following his 1988 conviction. The archdiocese then removed him from any official assignments, though he was allowed to do some volunteer ministry.

Cecelia Price, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said she could not comment on pending litigation. She said any decision on whether to seal the suits is ''up to the courts.''

David Lambertus, Clark's lawyer, did not return a call for comment. He has declined comment on other cases involving Clark.

Earlier this year, the archdiocese asked Jefferson Circuit Judge James M. Shake to seal the sexabuse lawsuits being filed against it, citing a state statute requiring any suits alleging abuse more than five years in the past to be filed under seal. All of the lawsuits except the most recent one were filed by adults alleging abuse that occurred between 10 and nearly 50 years ago.

Shake refused to seal the suits, saying the statute did not apply because the alleged abusers themselves were not defendants.

In the most recent lawsuit, Cox did name Clark as a defendant, but he said that because the alleged abuse occurred within the past five years, the statute also does not apply.

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