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Sex Abuse Victims Criticize Kentucky Legislators
Notorious Pedophile Priest Re-trial Starts Tomorrow
In August, Lawmakers Honored Bishop Who Covered Up His Crimes
Support Group Says Politicians’ Decision Is “Hurtful and Unhealthy”
On the eve of another criminal trial involving Kentucky's most prolific predator priest, a support group for clergy sex abuse victims is criticizing state lawmakers for honoring the priest's boss.
In August, the state legislature passed a resolution praising now-retired Louisville Catholic Bishop Thomas Kelly. For years, Kelly supervised and transferred Fr. Daniel C. Clark, who has been accused of molesting dozens of boys and was convicted in the late 1980s and again in 2003 of sexually assaulting several boys.
Leaders of a support group for clergy sex abuse victims call that resolution ‘hurtful, unhealthy, and almost certain to prompt some deeply wounded child molestation victims to stay silent instead of calling the police about their predator.’
"Why prosecute the street corner dope dealer while publicly praising his drug kingpin and supplier?" said Ann Brentwood of Knoxville, the southeast regional director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “It’s devastating and intimidating to victims of horrific child sex crimes when secular officials heap praise on a man who covered up those crimes.”
According to his own deposition, Kelly knew of troubling reports about Clark at least as early as 1982. (Clark was ordained in 1980. Kelly became Louisville’s archbishop in 1981. Clark was defrocked by the Vatican in 2004. Kelly retired in June 2007.)
SNAP wants to see Clark, who has been defrocked by the Vatican, to be locked up after a retrial. His child molestation conviction was overturned in May by the Kentucky Supreme Court. The group would also like to see a new legislative resolution passed that acknowledges Kelly’s refusal to call the police about Clark’s crimes.
“We support the courageous victims who have once again come forward in another attempt to have this predator removed from any opportunity to continue abusing children,” said Brentwood.
“We know their brave efforts to find justice often subject them to brutal hard ball tactics of church attorneys. We applaud them for their strength and also the Commonwealth Attorney, Mike Mann, who continues to seek the protection of children.”
Tonight, Brentwood arrives in Shepherdsville. On Tuesday, she and a few SNAP volunteers will attend the hearing.
Nineteen victims sued Clark and the Louisville archdiocese in civil cases.
“This is clearly a serial pedophile who needs to be behind bars,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s National Director. “The bishop should use his vast resources - church websites, parish bulletins, and pulpit announcements - to prod anyone who saw, suspected or suffered Clark's crimes to contact law enforcement immediately.”
“It is imperative that Clark be strictly monitored and constantly supervised or children will not be safe,” Brentwood emphasized. “We expect and strongly urge Archbishop Kurtz to support all efforts to have this predator added to the registry of offenders and to see that he is kept from access to children.”
SNAP strongly encourages anyone who has seen, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes, by Clark, or any other priest, to contact police officials.
Kentucky Justices Overturn Priest's Abuse Conviction
The Kentucky Supreme Court today overturned the conviction of a former Roman Catholic priest who was convicted in 2003 of sexually abusing two Bullitt County boys.
Daniel C. Clark has served nearly four years of a 10-year sentence for his conviction on two counts of first-degree sexual abuse of the two boys.
In a 5-2 decision, the court ordered the case remanded to Bullitt Circuit Court for a new trial.
Clark contended in his appeal that he deserved a new trial, claiming the trial judge gave improper jury instructions, allowed testimony that he should have excluded and excluded evidence that he should have allowed.
Chief Justice Joseph E. Lambert and justices John D. Minton Jr., William E. McAnulty Jr., Mary C. Noble and Wil Schroder concurred with the decision. Justices Will T. Scott and Bill Cunningham dissented.
The Supreme Court agreed with two of Clark's arguments.
The court said Bullitt Circuit Judge Thomas Waller's instructions to the jury were "seriously flawed" because he did not give the jury the option of considering a charge of second-degree sexual abuse on the older boy, who turned 12 years old during the time the alleged sexual abuse took place. The type of abuse Clark is accused of is considered second-degree sexual abuse on children 12 and younger.
The court also said Waller erred in allowing a previous victim of Clark, whose case led to an earlier conviction of the priest, to testify in this trial. The court said allowing this testimony was "prejudicial."
The court disagreed with Clark's contention that the trial judge improperly kept out a videotape of the alleged victims being interviewed.
Clark, 59, who was removed from the priesthood in 2004, was one of the clerics at the center of the sexual-abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Louisville. Of four priests in the archdiocese who were convicted, Clark was the only one to bring an appeal to the state's highest court.
Clark was accused in 19 lawsuits against the archdiocese — including one filed by the Bullitt County boys' mother on their behalf. The archdiocese eventually settled all the cases.
Check back for further updates and read more in Friday's Courier-Journal.
Archdiocese Will Pay $300,000 to Settle Last of Sex-Abuse Suits
The Archdiocese of Louisville agreed this week to pay $300,000 to settle the last pending lawsuit over sexual abuse by a former priest.
The archdiocese settled with plaintiff Kyle Burden, a Louisville lawyer, who said in a suit filed nearly four years ago that he was sexually abused by Daniel C. Clark.
Burden filed the lawsuit during a wave of litigation in 2002 and 2003 in which plaintiffs alleged the archdiocese covered up the sexual abuse of children by dozens of priests and other church workers.
Burden was the only eligible plaintiff to opt out of a $25.7 million class-action settlement between the archdiocese and 243 other plaintiffs.
"I feel good," Burden said of the settlement. "I knew, being a lawyer, that it was the right thing to opt out of the class-action settlement."
Burden, whose lawsuit sought punitive damages from the archdiocese, said he feels the settlement amount reflected that goal.
He said he believed a jury trial could have resulted in an even larger payout but that it was difficult to predict what might have happened.
"In the end, I knew I wanted to show what the archdiocese did was wrong," he said. "Clearly a $300,000 settlement shows they acknowledge something there."
In a statement, archdiocesan spokeswoman Cecelia Price said: "We're pleased this negotiated settlement has brought closure for Mr. Burden and the archdiocese, and we pledge to continue our efforts at prevention of and education about childhood sexual abuse."
Burden's settlement is more than three times the median payment -- just over $85,000 -- that the class-action plaintiffs received. The highest individual payout in that case was $218,801.
Burden, 36, said in his lawsuit that he was sexually abused by Clark when Burden attended St. Rita School. Burden said Clark fondled him in a basement while holding an ice pack to the boy's nose, which had been injured in a softball game.
Clark is serving a 10-year prison sentence for sexually abusing two other boys. He also was convicted of abuse in the late 1980s. Twenty plaintiffs accused Clark of abuse in the recent round of lawsuits against the archdiocese, and the Vatican removed him from the priesthood in 2004.
Burden, who represented himself along with lawyer Wallace Rogers, was the only plaintiff to take testimony from Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly in a deposition. Kelly testified he was told in 1982 that Clark was getting "too close" to boys, but Kelly said it wasn't clear to him until later years that the involvement was sexual.
Reporter Peter Smith can be reached at (502) 582-4469.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests