As his victims sat behind him in the courtroom, a retired Roman Catholic priest pleaded guilty Monday to sexually abusing 21 children.
“I remember these children very well,” the Rev. Louis E. Miller said as the judge read each victim’s name. “I remem- ber fondling these children.”
Miller, 72, pleaded guilty as his trial was set to begin in Jefferson County Circuit Court on 44 counts of indecent and immoral practices and six counts of sexual abuse. He faces trial on similar charges in neighboring Oldham County in June, plus dozens of civil suits.
Miller sat with his head down and hands clasped as he admitted abusing each of the victims, who included his niece and nephew. His niece, Mary Miller, said he kissed and licked her face in 1972.
“I don’t see where that was an indecent or immoral practice,” the retired priest said in court. The comment surprised Mary Miller, who left the courtroom wiping away tears.
Miller, who retired last year after the accusations became public, also is accused of abuse in more than 80 of the 214 lawsuits that have been filed in the past year against the Archdiocese of Louisville. The plaintiffs all now adults say the church was aware of the abuse but did nothing to stop it.
A 1990 psychiatric report filed with the court last summer said Miller committed assaults every other month during the 1960s and’70s, usually targeting boys 10 to 15.
When the church learned of the incidents, it moved him from one job to another, said the report sent to Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly, who barred Miller from working with children in 1990.
At sentencing May 27, Miller will face one to 10 years for each count of indecent and immoral practices with another, and one to five years for each count of sexual abuse.
The sentences could run consecutively or concurrently, Judge Ann O’Malley Shake said.
Two other Louisville priests, a former priest and two teachers are awaiting trial within the next year in five counties. All five have pleaded innocent.