BRIDGEPORT The Court of Appeals has ordered a new trial in a case where a victim was awarded a $1 million judgment against the Bridgeport diocese for sexual molestation by a priest that he allegedly suffered in the early 1960s. The court, which split 2-1, said that the plaintiff must go back to the trial court to prove facts to justify the filing of the lawsuit more than 30 years after the alleged abuse. The majority opinion said that the plaintiff must show that he lacked knowledge of the abuse until 1991. If successful, he may then be able to prove that the diocese knew but failed to protect him as a parishioner.
The plaintiff said that when he was a teenager, Fr. Laurence Brett had sexually assaulted him on 3 occasions from 1961-64. He sued the diocese for breach of fiduciary duty as a parishioner of the church. The jury agreed and imposed $750,000 in compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitive damages against the diocese.
At issue was whether the lawsuit was timely. In a 61-page opinion, Circuit Judge Robert D. Sack said that the trial judge gave poor instructions on Conn.'s statute of limitations. It was actually up to the plaintiff to show he had not discovered enough facts about the sexual abuse to warrant suing until 1993. And the tolling statute requires that the diocese have actual awareness of possible wrongdoing by Brett in order for the limitations period to be extended for reason of concealment.
According to the opinion, the plaintiff repressed his memory of the sexual episodes until he had a conversation with an old high school friend in 199 and subsequently underwent therapy. The court said that a university student in Bridgeport blamed Brett in 1964 for sexual assault, and the diocese confronted the priest, who admitted the incident. If the plaintiff did not remember until 1991, or if the diocese concealed Brett's misconduct, then under Conn.'s three-year statute of limitations, the 1993 filing of the complaint was timely.
The plaintiff may have a viable claim that the diocese failed to investigate
Brett's conduct and warn possible victims, the court said.
New York Law Journal, 11/12/99
MIAMI The Archdiocese of Miami began the fingerprinting of priests, lay workers and church volunteers as a response to allegations of misconduct by priests.
Abp. John Favalora and his bishops, setting an example, were among the 3,800 church workers being fingerprinted. Bishops in Florida have voted to fingerprint all personnel who deal with children, the elderly or disabled people. Bishops around the state have said the plan is necessary because the church has a responsibility to not only serve people, but protect them, particularly children.
The most recent case of alleged sexual impropriety involved Fr. Joseph Cinesi. He has denied the allegations of stalking and exposing himself, but resigned as pastor of a Broward County, Fla., parish in Sept.
The policy also is being carried out in schools and charities and is
in practice in other dioceses in the state.
Three 21-year-old students at Georgia Tech in Atlanta and two students at Plantation High School in Florida were the latest alleged victims of attempts to engage them in telephone and cybersex, federal agents said. Frank Gallagher, head of Tampa's FBI office, said the new charges grew out of interviews with people named on a "Victim's List." Agents seized the list with 99 names and e-mail addresses on it when they arrested Alexander for using the Internet in an attempt to extort a 16-year-old girl.
All of those on the list received virtually identical messages threatening to destroy their reputations unless they engaged in phone or computer sex with the sender. Gallagher called it "cyberterrorism" because of the fear created in the recipients. One women told her father, an assistant federal public defender, about the message. Another contacted university officials.
Investigators are trying to reach other women included on the list. So
far, have traced 17 of them, and are continuing their search. Prosecutors
said they hope the new charges will bolster their claim that Alexander is
a methodical and dangerous sexual predator.
Lawrence Kilbourn, 43, was arrested 4 days after his congregation at Forest Hills United Methodist Church was told that he had resigned from his post because of a "sexual addiction."
Kilbourn's 17-year-old daughter turned her father in to authorities about a month ago after she discovered footage of a man molesting a young girl on a videotape of church activities, said FBI task force agent Robert Sheehan.
She couldn't see the man's face in the video, but she recognized a ring that looked just like the one her father once wore and had given to her.
More than 200 videotapes and 15,000 computer files were seized from Kilbourn's church-owned home in north Hillsborough County, and were being reviewed, said Sheehan. At least one home videotape shows a young child being molested. The computer files also contain child and adult pornography, Sheehan said.
Investigators are also checking allegations that Kilbourn had improper contact with members of his church youth group as well as children from the church day care. A dozen families, all with children in the church's youth group, have stepped forward with the allegations, police said.
Kilbourn was being held in jail in lieu of $80,000 bail, the amount of equity in his elderly parents' home. The judge also set strict guidelines for his release, including no contact with minors, no computer access and electronic monitoring of his whereabouts.
At a court hearing, Sheehan testified that Kilbourn admitted making the videotape and possessing computer files, some of which depicted toddler and preadolescent children posed or engaged in sexual conduct. Kilbourn admitted he had made another videotape with child pornography about a year ago and that he was unable to stop himself from molesting children, the agent said.
The tape his daughter saw was made 5 years ago in Bradenton, where Kilbourn once worked at another church, he added.
Kilbourn's attorney said the charges are "traumatic" for Kilbourn's family. Kilbourn's daughter moved out of her father's home Oct. 12 and moved to Tallahassee to live with her mother, Sheehan said.
Kilbourn is divorced and has 3 daughters. He was pastor at the 500-member church for 16 months. An interim pastor has been named to the church.
Dave Brazelton, a United Methodist official, stripped Kilbourn of his
church credentials and accepted his resignation. "I had felt really
hurt for Larry," he said, "and now it's switched to any potential
AURORA Nearly 7 years after pleading guilty to fondling two altar boys in San Bernardino, Calif., Fr. Edward Lawrence Ball, 60, is under arrest here, facing extradition as a fugitive from justice on 26 new charges of abusing other boys there in the 1980s. A priest for 33 years, he began his seminary studies in the same town in which he is now jailed, his order's headquarters. Bail was set at $1 million.
The earlier charges led to his removal in Calif., 9 months in jail, 5 years probation, and his being placed under the supervision of his order, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. The boys' parents settled a $2 million lawsuit in Dec. 1994 against Ball, Our Lady of Fatima parish, two church officials and the Diocese of San Bernardino.
The new charges allege forcible lewd acts upon a child, sodomy and oral
sex by use of force. He is accused of inviting altar boys to his residence,
make them work for him, massage them, give them wine, and have them sleep
in his bed, when they would then be molested. Ball had been shielded by
the statute of limitations, but a recent change in Calif. law eliminated
any time limit for the prosecution of such crimes.
San Bernardino County Sun 11/13/99, 11/11; Chicago Sun-Times, 11/11
Sr. Dorothy Toman, 66, told police she wanted to see how the hospital would react to graffiti such as "white supremacy" that she wrote on the walls of 5 bathrooms at Provena St. Joseph Hospital and Medical Center in late July.
Toman, who was fired from her job ministering to patients after she admitted to the incident, pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal damage to property and was spared jail time.
The judge ordered Toman to undergo a psychological evaluation, pay the
$150 fine and perform 30 hours of community service.
The couple, whose names are being withheld, are seeking $50,000. The suit alleges that Fr. Vien Van Do molested the plaintiff, a former church secretary, a number of times in 1997-98. It also claims a diocesan official threatened her husband with the loss of his title.
The diocese denies the allegations. Do was placed on a temporary leave
of absence, underwent counseling and was "judged fit to return to work,"
their statement said.
Sun News, 8/6/99
COVINGTON A Roman Catholic priest was promoted to pastor of a church just weeks after church officials learned he had fathered a child with a married woman.
Fr. Joseph Gallenstein has since received a 3-month leave of absence at his own request. A statement issued by the Diocese of Covington said Gallenstein intends to remain a priest. Fr. Tom Sacksteder, a diocesan spokesman, said Gallenstein, who is in his early 40s, will work in the diocese when he returns but said he did not know where.
Sacksteder said the diocese had no comment on why it allowed Gallenstein
to become pastor after it learned he had fathered a child since Roman Catholic
priests are required to be celibate. "That is not a matter for the
press. It is an internal matter for the church," he said.