(Tribune-Star) A Terre Haute man identified only as “John Doe WC” has become the 10th plaintiff in a growing collection of sex abuse lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and the former Rev. Harry E. Monroe.
The most recent suit, filed Tuesday in Vigo County Circuit Court by Minnesota attorney Patrick Noaker, alleges the 40-year-old man was one of at least six Terre Haute men who were sexually abused as minors when Monroe was assigned to St. Patrick parish from 1979 to 1981.
St. Patrick’s Church also is named as a defendant in the suit.
The other nine cases, which Noaker’s firm filed in Marion County, involve men who were minors in Indianapolis area parishes where Monroe served as a priest before being transferred to Terre Haute.
After the St. Patrick’s post, Monroe was transferred to the Tell City area in southern Indiana as a priest for several small parishes. According to the archdiocese, Monroe was removed permanently from the priesthood in 1984.
He has worked the past several years as a counselor in a health center in Nashville, Tenn., Noaker said.
The attorney was joined in the filing and at a news conference afterward by Melissa Limcaco of Terre Haute and the Rev. Gary Hayes, who said he is a Roman Catholic priest in the diocese of Owensboro, Ky. Hayes said he is also “a survivor of sexual abuse” as a child by two priests.
Limcaco’s son, Daniel, told his parents in 1981 that he had been abused by Monroe on at least two outings – one to Indianapolis, another to Turkey Run State Park – while Monroe was a priest and youth minister at St. Patrick’s.
Limcaco said Daniel was one of several St. Pat’s adolescents who sent letters, as advised by the archdiocese, to then-Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara, detailing the alleged abuse. Her pastor at the time, the Rev. Joseph Wade, talked her out of going to the police to report the allegations, she said.
Daniel died in 1983 from carbon monoxide poisoning, probably the result of suicide.
In November, Limcaco and her husband, Oscar, spoke publicly about Daniel’s death and Monroe in a lengthy interview with the Tribune-Star. That action, said Noaker, prompted “John Doe WC” to confide the alleged molestation to his wife and others and to contact the attorney.
The Limcacos are not plaintiffs in the suits.
“I’m here primarily to let the victim know our family is supporting him,” Limcaco said at the news conference.
Among eight causes of action listed in the Vigo County suit are childhood sexual abuse, negligence and two types of fraud.
As “a corporation authorized to conduct business … in the state of Indiana,” the suit states, archdiocesan officials knew from previous complaints in Indianapolis that Monroe had a history of sexual abuse but misrepresented that status “with the intent to deceive” the plaintiff.
John Doe WC, the suit contends, “has suffered, and continues to suffer great pain of mind and body, shock, emotional distress … disgrace, humiliation, and loss of enjoyment of life …”
Noaker said the Terre Haute man was 14 and an altar boy at the time of the alleged crime. The molestations, he said, took place in the rectory at St. Patrick’s as well as on outings. The attorney said his client also alleges that Monroe plied the then-adolescent with alcohol and marijuana, explaining that parents were “grateful” to have their children exposed to such substances under the safe, watchful guidance of a priest.
Greg Otolski, executive director for communications at the archdiocese, said in a telephone interview the office could not comment “on any pending litigation.”
Otolski said, however, that Archbishop Daniel Buechlein previously has urged parishioners in letters, church bulletin inserts and archdiocesan publications to report any knowledge of abuse – by Monroe or any other priest or church employee – to the archdiocese and to “the appropriate law enforcement agencies.”
“They keep saying we haven’t done all these things, and that’s not so,” Otolski said, referring to critics of the archdiocese and its response to the Monroe case.
At the news conference, Noaker said the lack of reporting to civil authorities by archdiocesan officials was part of why there are now 10 suits against them and Monroe.
“If you wanted to do a background check today on Father Harry Monroe, he would pass. He isn’t listed,” Noaker said.
Stephanie Salter / (812) 231-4229 firstname.lastname@example.org