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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Friday, September 3, 2010
Child sex suit settled vs. notorious IN/TN predator priest
Statement by Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director, 414 429 7259
We are proud of and grateful to this wounded but strong and compassionate man. His courage publicly exposed a dangerous serial predator priest, almost certainly preventing other vulnerable children from being victimized by Monroe. He should feel good about what he has achieved by being brave enough to step forward and smart enough to take legal action. We hope his caring action will inspire others who were abused to come forward, get help, call police, expose predators, protect kids and start healing.
At the same time, however, we continue to be astonished at the callousness of the Indianapolis Catholic archdiocese. Playing ‘good cop, bad cop,’ the archdiocese feigns concern for this brave victim, while at the same time letting its lawyer ‘talk tough.’ (Like a hot-headed, petulant teenager who was spoiling for a fistfight that was thwarted, the archbishop’s lawyer growls “we coulda beat him.”) The truth is that the archbishop settled this case because he’s afraid that a trial would show how much top church staff knew of Monroe’s horrific crimes and how little they did to stop him or protect others.
The claim that this settlement enables the victim to "avoid the emotional distress and expense of a public trial," is bogus. The settlement enables corrupt and complicit church supervisors who ignored and concealed Monroe’s felonies to “avoid the emotional distress” of being publicly exposed as irresponsible accomplices.
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell), Peter Isely (414 429 7259)
(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 22 years and have more than 10,000 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)
1st suit accusing ex-priest is settled
When a man known in court papers as John Doe RG came forward in 2005 with a lawsuit alleging he'd been sexually abused as a boy by his priest, few people in Indianapolis remembered or knew of a former clergyman named Harry Monroe.
That soon changed.
After John Doe RG's lawsuit, 12 other men came forward with lawsuits also alleging that Monroe had used his position as a priest from 1974 to 1984 to take advantage of them when they were still boys growing up in Catholic parishes in the state.
Now, almost five years after filing the lawsuit that started it all, John Doe RG has reached a financial agreement with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis that compensates him for medical treatment associated with his abuse and covers the legal fees associated with his lawsuit.
The exact amount of the settlement wasn't disclosed, but archdiocesan attorney Jay Mercer said it was less than the $199,000 the church paid in May to settle another lawsuit associated with Monroe.
The settlement, reached Aug. 24 during court-mandated mediation but not disclosed until Thursday, averts a trial that had been scheduled for later this year. The proceeding promised to go where few cases in Indiana have gone before -- allowing jurors to hear testimony about "repressed memories," those from a traumatic event painful enough to cause a victim to lose them for years, even decades.
In his lawsuit, John Doe RG said that as an altar boy at St. Andrew Catholic Church in the mid-1970s, he had been sexually abused on multiple occasions. He also said he had lost the memories of that abuse until a 2003 session with his therapist.
The Star generally does not identify victims of sexual assault.
In January, Superior Court Judge David Dreyer ruled that jurors would be allowed to hear the testimony about the validity of repressed memories and decide for themselves whether the late recovery of the memories should allow RG's lawsuit to go forward decades after the statute of limitation had expired.
John Doe RG, now 45, said the uncertainty of how that would play out in court was a factor in his decision to settle. In an interview Thursday, RG said he didn't want the possibility of losing the case to undercut the other cases pending against the archdiocese. His attorney, Pat Noaker, acknowledged that his would have been a "complex" case to put before a jury.
Mercer, the attorney representing the archdiocese, said he felt confident the church would have won in court or on appeal. Ultimately, though, settling the case now was less expensive than allowing it to proceed.
The archdiocese issued a statement Thursday that said the settlement enables John Doe RG to "avoid the emotional distress and expense of a public trial." The statement also noted that RG's "courage in coming forward with his claim encouraged others to seek the help and support they needed.”
Monroe, who could not be reached for comment Thursday, has acknowledged in court depositions that he sexually abused at least five of the 13 men who came forward with lawsuits. He didn't deny abusing the others but said he had no memories of those instances.
From Indianapolis, Monroe was transferred to parishes in Terre Haute and Tell City, along the Ohio River, before the archdiocese relieved him of his duties.
Noaker praised RG for coming forward when he had no idea there were others who had suffered in the same way. And RG, who blames his abuse for his lifelong struggle to trust people and maintain personal relationships, said Thursday that the experience of coming forward had been empowering.
"A bad thing happened to me. But I think I was able to take that bad thing and really build something out of that that I'm proud of," he said. "I'm not going to let it drag me down."
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests