The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
Friday, April 11, 2008
Court rules case against ex-priest can go on: Harry Monroe accused of molesting numerous boys
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell)
Soon, Indiana's top Catholic officials may finally be confronted in court, under oath, about how they've concealed child sex crimes by the state's most prolific and notorious predator priest.
We're very grateful that these judges understand that it's fraudulent for church employees to put dangerous predators in parishes and claim they're holy, celibate, trustworthy individuals.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We've been around for 17 years and have more than 7,000 members across the country. 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, 314-645-5915 home), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688), Mary Grant (626-419-2930), Mark Serrano (703-727-4940)
Published: April 10, 2008 11:44 pm
Court rules case against ex-priest can go on
Harry Monroe accused of molesting numerous boys
By Sue Loughlin - The Tribune-Star
An Indiana appeals court has given a green light to a civil lawsuit that alleges a former Catholic priest sexually abused a boy and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis covered up the priest's prior history of sexual abuse.
In a two-page order issued Monday, the Indiana Court of Appeals declined to hear an appeal by lawyers for the Indianapolis Archdiocese.
It gave no reason for the decision.
The defendant in the case is Harry E. Monroe, a former Catholic priest accused of molesting numerous boys between 1974 and 1984 at churches in Indianapolis, Terre Haute and Perry County in southern Indiana.
The archdiocese has been named as a co-defendant. The lawsuit accuses the archdiocese of fraud, alleging the church deceived members of an Indianapolis parish that Monroe was suited to minister to young boys when it knew he had a history of molesting boys.
"Placing a priest in a church with access to children in a way represents to a parish that the priest is safe," said Patrick Noaker, the attorney representing the victim. "If church officials know differently, as in this case .. It is fraud to the parish families and children."
Archdiocese attorneys claim that the alleged victim of Monroe waited too long to take legal action and that his case should be tossed out.
In reaction to the Court of Appeals decision, Greg Otolski, archdiocese spokesman, stated, "I think there are probably still several steps in the legal process."
Experts estimate that fewer than 30 civil clergy sex abuse cases have ever gone to trial, according to SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The overwhelming majority are either settled out of court or rejected because the statute of limitations has expired.
Noaker said his client "deserves what other crime victims have; a chance for his day in court. He really wants to see Indiana's top Catholic officials have to explain, under oath, why they refused to call the police about this serial predator and kept quietly moving him around so he could molest dozens of innocent boys."
Noaker predicts that a trial could be scheduled for late this year.
Monroe is the subject of 13 sexual abuse lawsuits that also name the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Three of the victims are from Terre Haute, but they want to remain anonymous, Noaker said.
Monroe has given a deposition in which he admitted lewd behavior or sex acts with several boys in various parishes where he served in Indiana.
The victims' lawsuits allege church officials knew of Monroe's child sex crimes but kept them secret while moving him to new parishes with no warning.
Noaker said he expects the archdiocese to challenge the lawsuits "at every place they can."
The Court of Appeals is saying in its order that "this issue is not proper for appeal at this time. The trial court had gotten it right," Noaker said.
Noaker said his client is happy that he's a step closer to getting his day in court, but he's also saddened because the archdiocese could have prevented the abuse by not moving Monroe from parish to parish.
"Hundreds of times Catholic officials across the country have successfully exploited legal technicalities and kept devastating child sex crimes under wraps," said David Clohessy, national director of SNAP. "We are thrilled in this instance they have failed."
Monroe was suspended from parish work in 1984. However, in his deposition, he says the archdiocese never "defrocked" or "laicized" him, which is required when the Vatican wants to permanently oust a priest, according to SNAP.
Monroe now lives in a suburb of Nashville, Tenn., according to SNAP. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Missi Limcaco, whose late son, Danny, was one of Monroe's alleged sex abuse victims, said if the civil lawsuit does go to trial, she will attend.
Monroe "has never had to answer for anything he's done," Limcaco said. In a recent deposition, he admitted to molesting boys. "Why is he not being held accountable?" she asked.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests