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Third Lawsuit Filed Against Former Priest, Now Religious Educator

Woman claims she was sexually abused in 1960s and '70s

Apr 3, 2003 | The Courier-Journal A third woman yesterday accused a former Roman Catholic priest of sexual abuse, alleging that he molested her over a fourto five-year period in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Carol Beckman Eversmann of Underwood, Ind., accused Joseph E. Carrico of abuse in a lawsuit filed yesterday against the Archdiocese of Louisville.

Eversmann, whose cousin Lysha Beckman Sitzman filed similar allegations in a suit last week, said Carrico was a family friend and alleged he began molesting her when she was about 10.

Carrico -- who left the priesthood in 1973 but remained a lay religious educator in the archdiocese -- was named in a second lawsuit filed Tuesday by Evelyn Abell McKemie.

Eversmann's lawsuit was one of two filed yesterday in Jefferson Circuit Court against the archdiocese, which faces more than 200 lawsuits alleging abuse by priests and others associated with the church. Another plaintiff alleged sexual abuse by the Rev. Louis E. Miller, a retired priest who pleaded guilty to 50 criminal abuse counts Monday.

''It's something I've thought about for a long time,'' Eversmann said. ''But it takes one to be courageous to come forward for others to come forward.''

After her cousin filed suit, ''I had to support her,'' Eversmann said.

Carrico was ordained in 1967, according to archdiocesan spokeswoman Cecelia Price.

He served as an associate pastor at three parishes: St. Barnabas between 1967 and 1970, St. Helen from 1970 to 1971 and St. Catherine in New Haven from 1971 to 1973. Price said his files do not show any past allegations against him.

Carrico was suspended with pay from his job as a part-time religious educator at St. Gregory parish in Samuels last week after Sitzman filed the first lawsuit, accusing him of abuse.

Carrico, who denied the allegations in the first two lawsuits, declined to comment when reached by telephone yesterday.

Price said yesterday that she could not comment on pending litigation.

Eversmann, who grew up in Louisville, said Carrico befriended her family when he came to work in the city after getting to know Sitzman's family in St. Meinrad, Ind., where he attended seminary. Sitzman grew up in the town of St. Meinrad.

McKemie said in an interview yesterday that she also had been considering coming forward but was reluctant.

''I didn't say a word ever to anybody for all those years,'' McKemie said. Her goal in suing is not financial, she said.

After Sitzman filed suit last week and Carrico denied the charge, ''Lysha needed me because she was alone,'' she said.

McKemie, whose family got to know Carrico while they were parishioners at St. Barnabas Church, said she was fearful of how she would would feel by coming forward and alleging she ''was a victim.''

But once she did so, ''I know after all these years I'm starting a recovery.''

Also yesterday, plaintiff James D. Chestnut alleged he was sexually abused by Miller, who is now named in 87 lawsuits. In addition, an inmate at the Kentucky State Reformatory filed suit on Tuesday, accusing Miller of abuse.

Eversmann and Chestnut are represented by attorney William McMurry. The inmate, William Douglas Ludwig, filed suit on his own.

Chestnut, 40, alleges that when he was attending a football game in a neighborhood parish in the early 1970s, Miller took him inside a church and sexually abused him.

Chestnut said that while he was watching the football game, someone stole his bicycle and he began crying. A priest at the game came over to comfort him and took him in the church, Chestnut said.

The suit did not identify the parish, but Chestnut said in an interview it was St. Pius X in Louisville. Miller did not serve at St. Pius, but Chestnut said he recognized Miller from photos. Miller worked as chaplain at SS. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital from 1963 to 1973 and at St. Aloysius Church in Oldham County from 1973 to 1975.

Chestnut said he decided to come forward after hearing radio interviews with some of Miller's victims Monday night after the priest's guilty plea.

''I'm angry,'' Chestnut said. ''I endured something for 30-some-odd years I've consistently had to think about.''

Ludwig, 41, alleges Miller abused him over a two-year period at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church in Louisville.

According to the Kentucky Department of Corrections Web site, Ludwig began serving a 15-year sentence in July. He was convicted of burglary, possession of a controlled substance and being a persistent felony offender.

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