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More ‘John Does’ File Lawsuit

Aug 18, 2003 | Cincinnati Catholic Telegraph

A lawsuit filed Aug. 11 in Hamilton County Common Please Court against Lawrence Strittmatter, Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati claims the six plaintiffs were abused by Strittmatter, a suspended archdiocesan priest.

Strittmatter, a former teacher and principal at Elder High School on Cincinnati’s west side from 1970-1988, was removed from ministry last year and placed on administrative leave when charges were made by former student Bob Fricke of abuse in 1982. As a result, Strittmatter is no longer permitted to present himself as a priest or engage in priestly ministry. The action taken by the archdiocese was the policy as dictated by the Child Protection Decree, first promulgated in 1993.

Last May four other men, also identified only as "John Does," filed a similar suit seeking damages of more than $1 million because they said the archdiocese did not do enough to identify possible victims and offer them assistance. The six new plaintiffs, also not identified, are being represented by attorney Konrad Kircher of Mason, who also represents the men in the original suit. In this suit, each plaintiff also seeks damages in excess of $1 million.

At an Aug. 11 press conference on the steps of St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, Kircher was joined by Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul, Minnesota attorney who has tried several hundred cases of clergy sexual abuse, and by David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP (Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests).

Anderson cited the recent publication of a 1962 Vatican document on procedures for dealing with charges of sexual abuse by clergy (see story, page 12) as further evidence that the Catholic Church has been engaged in organized cover-ups.

The new lawsuit alleges that charges of abuse against Strittmatter were made twice without action taken against him: once during each of the 1979-80 and 1980-81 school years.

But archdiocesan records indicate the first report of abuse was made in 1988, when Strittmatter was removed from his pastorate and sent for treatment.

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