Man sues ex-priest and archdiocese over alleged abuse

(Indy Star) A new suit was filed Monday against former priest Harry Monroe on behalf of a 39-year-old man who alleges he was abused as a teenager in the early 1980s.

The abuse took place at St. Michael Parish in the Ohio River town of Cannelton, according to the suit, which names the Archdiocese of Indianapolis as a defendant.

The court case comes as Indiana judges are wrestling with whether such legal challenges meet the time limits set out by state law.

Clark Circuit Judge Daniel F. Donahue ruled Friday that 23 people waited too long to sue the archdiocese with claims they were molested by the late Rev. Albert Deery in the 1950s and 1960s. They should have sued within two years of becoming adults, the judge said.

Eight other cases filed against Monroe involve similar timelines — people in their 30s or 40s making claims of childhood abuse. The cases include parishes in Indianapolis and Tell City.

Henry Karlson, an Indiana University law professor, said state law requires minors to file abuse claims within two years of their 18th birthday. Delays can’t be allowed merely because the memories were too tough to address, he said, but only if they were involuntarily suppressed.

Minnesota attorney Pat Noaker, representing the plaintiffs in the Monroe cases, said there are factors in each, such as suppressed memories, that keep the legal deadlines from applying. He interprets the deadline for abuse claims as being two years from the date victims “recognize their injuries.”

“I still think we are still within the statute of limitations,” he said.
John S. Mercer, the Indianapolis attorney defending the archdiocese, said the Clark County plaintiffs made a wide variety of arguments that the statutes should not strictly apply, and each was shot down. “I think the whole gamut was covered,” he said.

Noaker said Monroe used marijuana and alcohol to facilitate the abuse of the plaintiff in the newest case, who was identified in documents only as “John Doe OD.”

Monroe could not be reached for comment. The archdiocese, accused of both fraud and negligence in the case, declined comment.


Robert King