MO-Victim to appeal "bizarre" ruling

Victim to appeal “bizarre” ruling

Catholic abuse case will move forward

Church not responsible for child sex crimes

The reason: abuse happened on private property

Missouri Supreme Court is expected to hear case this year

For immediate release: Wednesday, January 1, 2014

For more info: David Clohessy (314 566 9790,, Barbara Dorris (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell,

A man who says he was sexually assaulted as a child by a priest will soon ask the Missouri Supreme Court to reverse a ruling that ended his civil lawsuit against Kansas City Catholic officials. Clergy sex abuse victims called the court decision “bizarre” and harshly criticized KC Bishop Robert Finn for his defense tactics in the case.

In November, a western Missouri appeal court tossed out a case called John Doe D.T. v. the Kansas City Catholic diocese and Fr. Michael Tierney. In it, the court ruled that Catholic officials could not be held responsible for the alleged child sex crimes of Fr. Tierney because they occurred on private property, not church property.

This week, another court declined to hear the case and the victim’s attorney pledged to appeal it to the Missouri Supreme Court.

“The blame here squarely lies with Bishop Finn. He could have fought this case on the merits. Instead, he’s fighting it on technicalities, and in fact, on the most absurd technicality: where Fr. Tierney and his victim were standing when Fr. Tierney sodomized the child,” said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, outreach director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

“Imagine a painting company sending a known rapist on its payroll out to paint your mom’s house. He rapes her. Would the painter’s boss get ‘off the hook’ because the rape was not on company property?” asks David Clohessy of SNAP.

In 2011, St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson and his colleagues escaped responsibility in a similar case. Church officials admit that Fr. Thomas Cooper molested a boy at a riverside cabin. But the building was owned by the priest, not by the church. So the victim, Paul Alvino, lost his case.

“We hope that the Missouri Supreme Court will overturn these rulings, and the awful decision on which they are partially based, the 1997 Gibson v. Brewer case that puts our state among three in the US in which victims have to prove ill intent (not just negligence) by employers in child sex cases,” said David Clohessy of SNAP.

“These two brave victims – Paul Alvino in St. Louis and John Doe D. T. in Kansas City - have shown just how committed Catholic officials are to covering up clergy sex crimes,” said Dorris. “These disgraceful bishops are so determined to keep hiding the truth that they’ll use any legal maneuver or loophole – no matter how unprecedented or immoral – to deny already wounded and still suffering child sex abuse victims their day in court.”

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  • John and Ann Heydt
    commented 2014-01-01 19:24:15 -0600
    In story after story after story after story…the insanity of what the church is doing is so
    outrageous that I’m at a loss of words to “comment.” Can only think back in history to other causes…like slavery/atrocities committed against Native Americans…etc. and the complicity back then of the courts, law enforcement, politicians to support the cruelty of the status quo. It did finally change—some. But we think we live in a more “enlightened”
    time and yet these injustices continue to the detriment of the victims in favor of the
    powerful establishment. Disgraceful.

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