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Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests - Tennessee




Fifth lawsuit brought against former priest

Fifth lawsuit brought against former priest

Plaintiff alleges archdiocese knew of abuse charges as it moved Harry Monroe

By Ken Kusmer/Associated Press/Indianapolis

The Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis knew about six allegations of child sexual abuse against a priest when it placed him in a rural parish where he molested again, a lawsuit filed Wednesday alleged.

The archdiocese, meanwhile, fended off a call by an abuse survivors group to appoint a non-attorney as its staff member who coordinates aid to sexual abuse victims.

The lawsuit, the fifth in two months to accuse the Rev. Harry E. Monroe of molesting young male parishioners, was filed in Marion Superior Court against the former priest and the 240,000-member archdiocese. The unidentified plaintiff alleges Monroe molested him at St. Paul Parish in Tell City over the two years before the archdiocese removed him from ministry in 1984.

The litigation against Monroe and the archdiocese took a darker turn with the latest complaint, however, because it alleges church leaders were aware of at least six molesting complaints against Monroe when they transferred him to arguably the most remote corner of the 39-county diocese, a small Ohio River community midway between Louisville, Ky., and Evansville.

“He was taken and placed and in a rural parish where I'm sure the archdiocese thought that he couldn't get them in trouble,” said attorney Patrick Noaker of Minneapolis, who represents each of the plaintiffs suing Monroe.

The archdiocese issued a statement saying it could not comment on the sexual abuse lawsuit - the 13th currently in which it is a defendant - but it expressed its sympathy for the victims.

“We are especially hurt when we read or hear allegations of sexual abuse of children by our own clergy,” the statement said. It urged abuse victims to contact police and Suzanne Yakimchick, the archdiocese's chancellor and its lead officer for assisting victims.

Monroe now lives in Nashville, Tenn., and a telephone number listed there for a Harry E. Monroe has been disconnected. A message was left seeking comment from Brian Ciyou, an Indianapolis attorney representing Monroe in other lawsuits.

The lawsuit alleged six minor boys reported abuse by Monroe to the archdiocese between 1979 and 1981. Noaker said in an interview the six all were parishioners at Terre Haute's St. Patrick Parish while Monroe was assigned there and that they and their families together reported the abuse to church officials.

The plaintiffs in the earlier lawsuits allege Monroe molested them while he was assigned to St. Andrew and St. Catherine parishes in Indianapolis in the late 1970s.

Noaker said he expected to file claims on behalf of other alleged victims in Tell City and Terre Haute.

A victims group, meanwhile, distributed a letter it sent to Archbishop Daniel Buechlein on Wednesday calling on him to replace Yakimchick as its victim assistance coordinator because she is an attorney.

“It's inherently problematic and deceptive to employ a lawyer in this capacity, especially given the fragile condition of many who approach the church to get help or report a child molester,” said the letter from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Such positions instead should be filled with therapists, the letter said.

The archdiocese said that Yakimchick, in addition to being an attorney, is a trained pastoral care worker with experience at an Indianapolis mental health center and as a welfare case worker.