MO- KC clergy case to move forward

MO- KC clergy case to move forward

For immediate release: Friday, August 29, 2014

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003,SNAPdorris@gmail.com)

Kansas City Catholic Bishop Robert Finn has lost his bid to have a clergy sex abuse lawsuit tossed out and the case is headed for trial next month. We are grateful that this brave, wounded victim, who was assaulted by two priests, will soon have his day in court.

Jon David Couzens was sexually violated by two KC priests - Fr. Isaac True and Msgr. Thomas J. O'Brien in the late 1970s and early 1980s when Couzens was a nine and ten year old altar boy at Nativity parish in Independence.

In December, Couzens settled with Fr. True's church supervisors for $125,000. There was no settlement with the diocese. Instead, he filed a “motion to dismiss” Couzens' case, he lost this motion in 2012.Their Motion for Summary Judgment, a second attempt to get this case thrown out, was dismissed last week. 

The Couzens case we believe, is particularly significant.

Twice Couzens has basically been deemed credible by church officials. He was to be a key witness in another case against Msgr. Thomas O'Brien that resulted in a $2.25 million dollar settlement last year. Obviously, Catholic officials feared that a jury would find Couzens very credible.

That' significant because, as the KC Star editorial board noted, some of Finn's more radical defenders are trying to impeach Couzens' character. (The editorial board also noted, however, that Couzens has shined a light into dark recesses, the existence of which church leaders have long denied. But, after struggling for decades with guilt and shame, Couzens showed great courage in telling of his painful trauma. Because of him and others who are speaking out, people in positions of authority will find it harder to harm children.) 

We again urge Bishop Finn to aggressively reach out to anyone who was hurt by Fr. True or Msgr. O’Brien. We also want Finn to disclose the identities of all predator priests and permanently post them on his diocesan website. 

O'Brien is Missouri’s most prolific predator priest. O’Brien was represented by Gerald F. McGonagle of McGonagle Spencer, PC. O’Brien passed away in October. His photo and work history are here.

Finally, we urge anyone who many have seen, suspected or suffered child sex crimes or cover ups to come forward, get help, expose predators, protect kids, deter wrongdoing and start healing. 

Couzens is represented by Rebecca Randles and Sarah Brown of Randles, Mata and Brown.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, davidgclohessy@gmail.com), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)

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