TX--Bishop accused of illegal taping of victim’s mom
For immediate release: Wednesday, March 4
A startling new clergy sex abuse and cover up lawsuit charges that Ft. Worth Catholic Bishop Michael F. Olsen:
-- illegally tape recorded a child sex abuse victim’s mom without her knowledge,
-- also tape recorded a “trusting” and deeply wounded victim too,
-- “betrayed,” “re-victimized” and “tried to silence” him until his statute of limitations expired,
-- conducted a “virtual interrogation” of him “for fraudulent purposes: to limit or deny” any potential civil case (he) would have and to “elicit support for the diocese’s legal defenses” if he did sue,
-- intended to “trick and betray” the mom “into testifying against her own abused and damaged son” with the “sole purpose of (using) her statements to defeat any potential civil claims he might justly have.”
-- promised to contact the victim again “in a few weeks” but never did,
-- led the victim “to believe he would go to Mass with him and pray with him but never did,
-- said “how happy he was that (the victim) had not hired a lawyer to sue the diocese.”
The bottom line is that “As a trusting child, Doe was betrayed and victimized by a chaplain and as a trusting adult he was betrayed and then re-victimized by his bishop,” the suit asserts.
The perpetrator of the child sex crimes was Fr. Hugh John Sutton.
Under the guise of punishment, Fr. Sutton repeatedly inflicted “sadistic abuse” on the boy,” the suit charges, beginning in in 1990, when the boy was in the 7th grade at Notre Dame Middle-High School at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Wichita Falls, Texas. During lunch hour in the school chapel, Fr. Sutton “disciplined” the boy by sexually assaulting him.
Fr. Sutton claimed, the suit says that “these excruciating, humiliating abuses were testimonies to God of his repentance for having plagiarized, and pleased Him” while also warning the boy to “not to tell anyone because no one would believe him,” and threatening “I have the power to ruin your life.”
A New York native, Fr. Sutton was ordained in Pueblo Colorado and worked as a teacher, chaplain or priest in Arkansas, California, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Guam and the US Navy. His only church assignment in the Ft. Worth diocese was apparently at Notre Dame (which he left in 1992). His last known location was at the Commons of Providence, a Catholic-affiliated assisted living facility in Sandusky, Ohio. He died in 2004.
The victim now lives out of state. He is represented by Dallas attorney Tahira Khan Merritt (214 503 7300). The suit, filed yesterday in Tarrant County court, seeks actual and punitive damages of more than one million dollars. It also says that in 2013, the victim “had a nervous breakdown, began to suffer debilitating panic attacks (which) flooded his sleeping and waking hours and wreaked havoc in his life” “as he recalled, for the first time, disturbing images of the serial rapes and sadistic abuses by Sutton.”
We applaud this brave man for his courage in exposing the Fr. Sutton’s horrific crimes and Bishop Olsen’s diabolical cover up of and manipulative response to those crimes.
We urge anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups in the Ft. Worth diocese – by this cleric or any church employee – to find the strength and courage to step forward, seek help, call police, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing.
And it’s crucial that victims, witnesses and whistleblowers seek independent help by calling therapists, police, prosecutors, loved ones or support groups like ours. (Obviously, Fr. Sutton can’t be prosecuted. But perhaps some current and former church staff who ignored or concealed his crimes might be.)
It’s crucial to call the independent, unbiased professionals in law enforcement, not the self-serving biased church bureaucrats.