MO- KC clergy case to move forward
For immediate release: Friday, August 29, 2014
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.
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)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.