- Another unprecedented victory for abuse victims
- Judge lets wrongful death/suicide case go forward
- Decision is believed to be first of its kind in Missouri
- It’s based on “fraud” allegedly committed by Catholic officials
- Boy who was repeatedly abused by notorious priest took his own life
At a news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and their attorney will disclose that they
--have just won an unprecedented ruling from a KC judge in wrongful death suit stemming from child sex abuse and cover ups,
--explain how it might help bring justice and healing to other families who have lost a loved on to suicide and
--urge others with knowledge or suspicions of suicides by abuse victims to come forward.
Friday, June 29 at 2:25 p.m.
Law office of attorney Rebecca Randles, VFW Building, 406 West 34th Street in Kansas City MO
A couple whose son was abused by a priest and who committed suicide
For apparently the first time in Missouri history, a judge has let an unusual wrongful death lawsuit – prompted by the suicide of a clergy sex abuse victim – move forward based on the charges of fraud against Catholic officials.
Yesterday, in a two page ruling, Judge Michael W. Manners sided with Donald and Rosemary Teeman, who say their son took his own life in 1983 in after having been molested by Msgr. Thomas J. O’Brien. Church officials sought to have the case dismissed based on the statute of limitations. But the judge ruled that the alleged fraud perpetrated by diocesan staff “tolled” the statute.
The ruling is also only the third time that a Missouri court has applied “fraudulent concealment” in a clergy sex abuse-related civil lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit (filed last September), Brian Teeman was repeatedly sexually assaulted by O’Brien (starting at age 11, from 1981-1983), mostly at Nativity parish in Independence. His parents learned of the abuse in July 2011 when another victim told them he saw O'Brien molest their son.
The suit says O’Brien would make boys “perform oral sex and mutual masturbation on each other, then require them to perform those acts on him” and “following the sexual encounters, he would require them to change into their robes, prepare communion, and serve at the mass.” The suit also charges that “O’Brien forced silence on (boys) by telling them that they would be kicked out of the Catholic Church, they would go directly to hell and their parents would disown them.”
According to the suit, KC church officials were told about O‘Brien’s crimes as long ago as 1972. Yet they let O’Brien keep “performing sacraments at the Kansas City Hospice until 2004.”
(Last year, another man who was sexually violated as a boy by O’Brien, Jon David Couzens filed a child sex abuse lawsuit in which he reported witnessing O’Brien sexually abuse three boys. One of them has since committed suicide, the suit says. Couzens was abused by different KC area Catholic priest, Fr. Isaac True.)
O’Brien was ordained in 1950and is believed to be about 80 years old. He faces allegations that he molested more than two dozen children (sometimes along with fellow KC priest Fr. Thomas Reardon), often at a cabin on Lake Viking (northeast of Kansas City) and several parishes (St. Patrick’s in Kansas City North, St. Elizabeth’s, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Independence). O’Brien worked at several Catholic institutions (St. Pius X High school and St. Joseph Health Center). He still lives in the KC area and kept working as a priest until 2002. In 2008, Kansas City church officials refused demands by victims to have O’Brien defrocked. O’Brien was also chaplain for the Kansas City Missouri Police Department. He remains a priest today.
According to a Boston-based research group, at least 23 KC Catholic clerics stand accused, often several times, of molesting kids. Yet not one of them has ever faced criminal prosecution (with the recent exception of Ratigan, who is jailed on child porn charges).
Attorney Rebecca Randles of Kansas City MO (816 931 2200, 816 510 2704 cell) represents the alleged victim’s parents.
Attorney Rebecca Randles of Kansas City 816 931 9901, 816 5102704 cell, David Clohessy 314 566 9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com, Barbara Dorris 314 503 0003, SNAPdorris@gmail.com,
Thank you for pursuing justice for your son Brian. My family and friends have been deeply touched by your courage. Brian will live in the hearts of thousands and thousands of survivors.