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Miller Accused Of Sex Abuse In Oldham

Jul 19, 2002 | The Courier Journal

The Rev. Louis E. Miller, who was indicted last month in Jefferson County in the alleged sexual abuse of 15 children, was indicted yesterday in Oldham County on charges of indecent or immoral practices with eight children in the St. Aloysius parish in Pewee Valley.

The indictment accuses Miller, who retired in March as a chaplain at a Louisville home for the elderly, of abusing seven boys and one girl at St. Aloysius between 1972 and 1975. A special grand jury charged him with 14 counts of violating a statute that was in effect at the time of the alleged incidents. That statute allows for punishment of one to 10 years in prison on each count.

Miller is scheduled to appear at 1 p.m. today for arraignment in Oldham Circuit Court. Commonwealth's Attorney Kim Snell said he will request a substantial bond.

Miller, 71, who was released on a $100,000 bond in Jefferson County, agreed to surrender today in Oldham County, Snell said. He pleaded innocent in the 42-count Jefferson County indictment that accused him of molesting children there over 23 years.

Miller is also accused of abuse in 63 lawsuits that allege the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville moved abusive priests from assignment to assignment and failed to report their misconduct to authorities. About 90 other plaintiffs have filed similar suits accusing 22 priests and other church employees of sexual misconduct. The archdiocese is the sole defendant in those lawsuits.

Michael Turner, 44, of Prospect, who filed the first in the recent spate of suits since April, said he was ''thrilled to death'' to learn of Miller's indictment in Oldham County. ''This is what needed to happen.''

Miller's criminal defense lawyer, David Lambertus, didn't return a phone message but said previously that neither he nor Miller would comment.

Attorney William McMurry, who represents most of the plaintiffs, said he hopes the Oldham County indictment brings the archdiocese to the negotiating table.

''How many more indictments do we need before the Archdiocese of Louisville follows through on its promise to begin informal resolution of these cases?'' McMurry said.

Brian Reynolds, the archdiocese's chief administrative officer, suggested in late June that it might be better to mediate than litigate the lawsuits. But more recently he said the church's lawyers would have to know more about the facts of each case before mediation could begin.

In a statement released after yesterday's indictment, the archdiocese said it had cooperated with investigations in Oldham and Jefferson counties and has ''complete confidence in the criminal justice system and the due process it provides.''

Miller was an associate pastor at St. Aloysius Catholic Church from 1973 to 1975, the archdiocese has said.

The Courier-Journal reported last week that a former principal of St. Aloysius School, Sister Mary Fulgence Logsdon, said in a recent deposition that Miller was removed from the school a ''couple of days'' after an eighth-grader reported Miller had molested him.

Six months later, however, Miller was installed as pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church, where he served for 13 years and is alleged to have abused more children, according to the Jefferson County indictment and the lawsuits.

The Oldham County grand jury charged Miller with abusing seven people who have filed lawsuits and one, Rick Lee Renfro, who has not.

Seven additional plaintiffs who allege in lawsuits that Miller molested them at St. Aloysius are not named as victims in the indictment. They include John Patrick Thornberry, whose complaint forced Miller's ouster from St. Aloysius, according to Logsdon's deposition.

However, Snell, the Oldham County commonwealth's attorney, said an additional indictment is possible. He said the indictment returned yesterday reflects only cases that the Kentucky State Police have finished investigating.

There is no statute of limitations for prosecuting felonies in Kentucky.

In Jefferson County, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Carol Cobb said a criminal investigation of other priests named in the lawsuits is continuing.

Snell said the Oldham and Jefferson County cases cannot be consolidated because the alleged crimes occurred in different jurisdictions. But he said that because the allegations are so similar, he expects his office and Jefferson County's will coordinate their efforts.

Those named as victims of sexual abuse by Miller in the Oldham County indictment: Michael Joseph Turner, two counts; Daniel Ulrich Jennings, two counts; Kitti Marie Smith, four counts; Mark Anthony Gootee, one count; James Gregory Klemenz, one count; Rick Lee Renfro, one count; Bruce Edward Taylor Jr., one count; and Mark Stephen Gardner, two counts.

Former St. Aloysius students and parishioners who filed lawsuits against the archdiocese but are not named in indictment: William R. Birk, Paul A. Dittmeier, Steve Donlon, Charles A. Hampton, James Mudd, Donald K. Singer, John Thornberry.

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