Two New Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Filed Against Diocese of Phoenix and St. Thomas the Apostle Parish Under Arizona’s Child Victims Act

Cases brought by courageous survivors of sexual abuse by celebrated priest, Fr. John P. Doran, in the early 1970s

Complaint: John HT Doe v Diocese of Phoenix et al 09.01.20
Complaint: John MW Doe v Diocese of Phoenix et al 09.01.20
Photos of Father John P. Doran
Photo of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish

 

(Phoenix, Arizona) – Today, on behalf of two courageous survivors of sexual abuse by Fr. John P. Doran, attorneys from the law firms of Jeff Anderson & Associates and Montoya, Lucero & Pastor, P.A. filed lawsuits against the Diocese of Phoenix and St. Thomas the Apostle Parish (Phoenix). The survivors, identified in their lawsuits as “John MW Doe” and “John HT Doe”, were sexually abused in the early 1970s by Fr. Doran when they were children and parishioners at St. Thomas the Apostle. Both men were able to bring their lawsuits under HB2466 (the Arizona Child Victims Act), which gives survivors of child sexual abuse until December 31, 2020 to bring lawsuits for sexual abuse they suffered as children.

“The two men who have come forward today have waited decades for the Bishop of Phoenix to be fully transparent about the pedophile priests working in this Diocese,” said attorney Robert Pastor of Montoya, Lucero & Pastor. “Today, these two survivors are taking the first step to help expose the truth about Father John P. Doran and others like him. We know the courage they have shown by coming forward will protect children in the future and, hopefully, help foster healing in those who are still suffering.”

Pastor is a well-known Phoenix attorney who has represented dozens of child sexual abuse survivors in Arizona. Jeff Anderson of Jeff Anderson & Associates is one of the leading child sexual abuse attorneys in the country. He has represented hundreds of survivors over the last 37 years and pioneered the use of civil litigation to help sexual abuse survivors hold their abusers, and the institutions that protected those abusers, accountable.

 

Father John P. Doran’s Abusive Past was Hidden by Officials while Fr. Doran was Publicly Celebrated

Fr. John P. Doran was ordained in the Diocese of Tucson in 1945 but became a priest of the Diocese of Phoenix after it was formed from a portion of the Tucson Diocese in December 1969. Fr. Doran was the founding pastor at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish (Phoenix), and served there from 1950 until 1972. Fr. Doran also served at Our Lady of Joy Parish (Carefree) and St. Maris (Scottsdale), both in the Diocese of Phoenix. Fr. Doran died in 1997.

Fr. Doran was revered and celebrated as the longtime pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle. Although the Diocese of Tucson acknowledged multiple allegations of sexual abuse against Fr. Doran in 2002, the Diocese of Phoenix didn’t remove his name from St. Thomas’ church hall until late 2003. At that time a 50-year-old Scottsdale man who was sexually abused by Fr. Doran in the 1960s said that his parents reported the abuse after he disclosed it to them, but Church officials told the family to keep the abuse a secret because creating a scandal would be a worse sin than the sexual abuse Fr. Doran inflicted on a child. Following this revelation in 2003, the Diocese of Tucson was forced to admit that a review of Fr. Doran’s file showed there had been a “failure to report” allegations against him in the past, and it was only then that the Diocese of Phoenix removed Fr. Doran’s name from St. Thomas’ church hall.

 

Fr. Doran is only one of 109 known abusive priests and clerics in the Diocese of Phoenix

Last year, the law firm of Jeff Anderson & Associates, working with Phoenix attorney Robert E. Pastor of Montoya, Lucero & Pastor, released a report containing the identities, histories, and photographs of 109 Catholic clerics accused of child sexual abuse in the Diocese of Phoenix. The firms reported at the time that one of the most shocking findings among their discoveries in collecting the data for the report was evidence that some perpetrators were transferred and retained in trusted positions with direct access to children even after Church leadership knew they were alleged abusers. Anderson and Pastor said modern means of analysis, evidence uncovered in other litigation, and the growing movement of survivors reclaiming their voice is exposing perpetrators who operated in the geographical boundaries of this Diocese. “Until the Diocese fulfils it promise of transparency and accountability children remain in grave danger,” said attorney Jeff Anderson of Jeff Anderson & Associates.

Historically, the Diocese of Phoenix knew of priests who were perpetrators and posed a significant danger to children. The sexual abuse of children has long been a crime in Arizona. However, Church officials chose and continue to keep these crimes hidden, allowing its priests continued and unfettered access to children. In 2003, Bishop Thomas O’Brien (Bishop of Phoenix 1982-2003) admitted that he protected pedophile priests instead of protecting children. Bishop O’Brien admitted in a written agreement with criminal prosecutors that he allowed priests under his supervision to continue to work with children after becoming aware of allegations they had sexually abused minors. It is unknown how many children were sexually abused in the Diocese of Phoenix as a result of these dangerous practices and the systemic cover up of clergy sexual abuse.

 

Fr. Doran’s Sexual Abuse of John MW Doe and John HT Doe

John MW Doe grew up in a large Catholic family in Phoenix. He was a parishioner at St. Thomas the Apostle and a student at the parish school in the 1960s and 1970s, where he met and came to know Fr. John P. Doran. John MW Doe alleges in his complaint that during the early 1970s when he was under fifteen years old, Fr. Doran sexually abused him on numerous occasions at St. Thomas and at a cabin in the White Mountains where Fr. Doran took him.

John HT Doe also grew up in Phoenix and attended St. Thomas the Apostle parish. His mother became close with Fr. Doran and relied on him for spiritual and, sometimes, financial support.  Fr. Doran used his position as a priest and his relationship with John HT Doe’s mother to groom both her and the young John HT Doe. In the early 1970s, Fr. Doran brought John HT Doe to a home where he was housesitting and sexually abused the boy.

Over the course of their lives, both men suffered emotional, physical and psychological harm resulting from the sexual abuse. The overwhelming feelings of shame and embarrassment forced these two survivors to keep the abuse buried for years, suffering alone and in silence. Both men wonder how many other children were sexually abused by Father John P. Doran. They hope the Diocese will help foster healing by disclosing the information it has about Father Doran and all other pedophile priests.

 

Lawsuits Possible Under Arizona Child Victims Act (HB2466)

Both of the lawsuits brought today are possible because of the Arizona Child Victims Act, which went into effect in May, 2019. The law extends the time limit for sexual abuse survivors to bring lawsuits against perpetrators and the institutions that protected them. The new law  gives survivors until December 31, 2020 to bring lawsuits in cases that were previously barred by the statute of limitations, no matter when the abuse occurred.

“The Arizona Child Victims Act has provided an opportunity for these courageous survivors to speak out about the horrors they suffered then and now,” said Anderson. “We are honored to stand with them. It’s time for a reckoning in the Diocese of Phoenix. It’s time for the Bishop to come clean.”

 

Contact
Jeff Anderson: 
651-227-9990 (o), 612-817-8665 (c)
Robert Pastor: 602-279-8969 (o), 602-690-6036 (c)

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