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Sixth lawsuit claims ex-Indiana priest abused boy

Posted on Mon, Jan. 30, 2006

Sixth lawsuit claims ex-Indiana priest abused boyKEN KUSMER

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS - A sixth man has accused a former Roman Catholic priest of molesting him more than 20 years ago at an Indiana parish, and a victims' advocacy group asked current priests to warn their parishioners that the alleged molester still poses a threat.

A lawsuit that was to be filed Monday in Marion Superior Court alleged Harry Monroe abused a boy while assigned to St. Paul Parish in the Ohio River town of Tell City before the Archdiocese of Indianapolis stripped Monroe of his ministry in 1984.

It is the sixth case naming Monroe and the archdiocese as defendants in the past five months. In two of the cases, the plaintiffs allege the abuse occurred while they were minors at the Tell City parish, one of the most remote locations in the 39-county archdiocese.

"This was an act of sacrificing these rural kids to this predatory priest, which is just outrageous," the plaintiffs' attorney, Patrick Noaker of St. Paul, Minn., said in a telephone interview.

Noaker said that in the latest case, the plaintiff is a married man now living outside Indiana.

Noaker said he was talking to other men who claimed to have been abused by Monroe and that he expected to file at least five additional lawsuits against the former priest and the archdiocese.

Noaker said Monroe typically would take his victims on weekend outings where they would stay at a state park or in a hotel. Monroe would give the boy alcoholic drinks and then molest him, the attorney said.

The Associated Press left a message for an attorney representing Monroe, Brian Ciyou of Indianapolis, seeking comment on the allegations in the lawsuit.

A spokesman for the archdiocese, Greg Otolski, said it generally does not comment on pending litigation.

Otolski said Archbishop Daniel Buechlein has encouraged victims of sexual abuse by priests or others ministering on behalf of the archdiocese to contact its victim assistance coordinator, Suzanne Yakimchick, at (317) 236-7325 or 800-382-9836, ext. 7325.

An advocacy group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests used the occasion of the latest lawsuit to criticize Buechlein for a "timid" response to the allegations surrounding Monroe and to announce it would send a letter directly to each priest of the archdiocese asking them to warn their congregations about Monroe.

"Monroe has moved, we're told, to Nashville (Tenn.)," the letter says. "But he may well come back to Indiana for visits. ... So we're begging you to please do what your archbishop won't do - use every means possible to warn parents about Monroe. You may be saving a child's life."

Otolski criticized SNAP for making it appear Monroe was still working in the archdiocese. Otolski also said Buechlein and the parishes where Monroe was assigned have publicized the allegations against him.

"We're still encouraging people to come forward," Otolski said.

Monroe was ordained in 1974 and was transferred among three Indianapolis parishes before being posted to St. Patrick Parish in Terre Haute in 1979. After a year on leave beginning in 1981, he was assigned to the Tell City church. Monroe has also been accused of abusing boys during his assignments in Indianapolis and Terre Haute.