The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Clergy sex abuse victims win key court ruling
For more information: David Clohessy 314 566 9790
Judge OKs their civil lawsuits against Catholic church
Predator priest was convicted years ago, then moved to Oklahoma
Two lawsuits against an accused predator priest may end up in a courtroom trial, thanks to a new ruling by a Pueblo judge.
Officials with the Pueblo Catholic diocese asked that the two cases be tossed out, claiming that the alleged victims came forward too late, after the statute of limitations had expired.
But Pueblo District Court Judge Larry Schwartz disagreed, saying a jury should hear the evidence and then decide for themselves whether the abuse happened and was reported in an appropriate time frame. Schwartz issued the decisions last week.
The cases involve alleged crimes by Fr. William Groves, whose whereabouts are unknown. The victim alleges the Pueblo Diocese knew of Groves’ sexual propensities and covered up this information, letting Groves keep working as a priest around kids.
According to the Pueblo Chieftain, "Both of Groves' accusers were born in 1974. One claimed Groves subjected him to 'sodomy, oral sex, mutual masturbation and fondling' for seven years concluding in 1990 during his youth in Walsenburg. The other plaintiff claimed that when he was 12 years old and living in Ignacio, Groves introduced him to alcohol and marijuana, then committed sexual abuse on him and showed him homosexual pornography."
Groves pleaded guilty in 1990 to one felony on a plea bargain involving a 14 year old boy. He was sentenced to 90 days jail and four years probation.
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims applauded the rulings.
"These brave men deserve their day in court and Catholics deserve to learn the truth about what happened," said David Clohessy of St. Louis. He's the national director of a self help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org). "Groves may still be molesting kids today, so these courageous men are helping to protect vulnerable kids today by taking legal action against this predator."
"In child sex abuse and cover up cases, it's immoral for bishops to try and exploit legal technicalities," said Clohessy. "If a bishop is convinced that a priest is wrongly accused, then they should welcome a chance to prove this in court. Instead, they try to find and hide behind loopholes and get cases immediately dismissed, which leaves a cloud of doubt over everything."
The abuse allegedly occurred between 1983 and 1990 with one boy and between 1986 and 1988 with the other. Both alleged victims sued in March of this year, saying they only recently became aware of the connection between the injuries they sustained and the abuse they suffered as children.
Groves is believed to have lived and worked in Oklahoma as an addictions counselor until abuse allegations against him surfaced.
The case numbers are 09CV414 and 09CV483. The victims are represented by Miami attorney Adam Horowitz (305-921-2200), who has represented dozens of sex abuse victims.
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 since 1988 and have more than 9,000 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
David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests