MO - Victim appeals “bizarre” ruling
It involves KC Catholic officials & priest
Church says it’s not responsible for crimes
Their rationale: abuse happened on private property
SNAP: “It’s perhaps the worst legal tactic by bishop ever”
For immediate release: Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013
A man who says he was sexually assaulted as a child by a priest is asking the Missouri Supreme Court to reverse a ruling that ended his civil lawsuit against Kansas City Catholic officials. Clergy sex abuse victims called the court decision “bizarre” and are harshly criticizing Bishop Robert Finn for his defense tactics in the litigation.
Two weeks ago, a western Missouri appeals court tossed out the case of John Doe D.T. v. the Kansas City Catholic diocese and Fr. Michael Tierney. The court ruled that Catholic officials could not be held responsible for the priest’s supposed child sex crimes because they allegedly occurred on private property, not church property.
“The blame here squarely lies with Bishop Robert Finn. He could have fought this case on the merits. Instead, he’s fighting it on technicalities, and in fact, on the most absurd technicality: where Fr. Tierney and his victim were standing when Fr. Tierney sodomized the child,” said Barbara Dorris of SNAP.
“Imagine a painting company sending a known rapist out to paint your mom’s house. He rapes her. Would the painter’s boss get ‘off the hook’ because the rape wasn’t on company property?” said Dorris. “Why should the physical site of a crime enable wrongdoers who commit or conceal that crime to escape responsibility?”
Finn isn’t the only Missouri bishop to take advantage of what SNAP calls “this horrible legal loophole.”
In 2011, St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson successfully used the defense in a case involving Fr. Thomas Cooper. Archdiocesan staffers admit that Fr. Cooper molested kids and that despite this, they continued to assign him to parishes where he hurt others.
But Cooper molested young Paul Alvino at a riverside cabin that was owned by the priest, not by the church. So a court threw out Alvino’s civil suit.
“We hope the Missouri Supreme Court will overturn these rulings, and the awful decision on which they are partially based – the 1997 Gibson v. Brewer case - that puts our state among three in the US in which victims have to prove ill intent (not just negligence) by employers in child sex cases,” said Dorris.
“We are proud of these two brave victims – Paul in St. Louis and John Doe D. T. in Kansas City – who have shown just how corrupt Missouri bishops are,” Dorris said. “These disgraceful prelates are so determined to keep hiding the truth that they’ll use any legal maneuver or loophole – no matter how unprecedented or immoral – to deny already wounded and still suffering child sex abuse victims their day in court.”
The Kansas City victim is represented by Kansas City attorney Rebecca Randles (816 931 9901, 816 510 2704 cell firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com). The St. Louis victim was represented by Ken Chackes (314 872 9420, 314 369 3902 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org)
A photo of Tierney is at BishopAccountability.org