Woman sues Sioux Falls diocese claiming sexual abuse

Associated Press/May 25, 2003

Sioux Falls, S.D. - A Florida woman has filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls claiming she was sexually abused by a priest during her childhood.

The lawsuit also names Bishop Robert Carlson, retired Bishop Paul Dudley, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and its bishop and the Rev. Bruce MacArthur, a retired priest of the Sioux Falls diocese who now lives in Texas.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Sioux Falls. In the suit, Judith "Judy" Glassman DeLonga, 48, of Pensacola, Fla., claims MacArthur molested her from about 1965 to 1970 while she lived in Beaver Dam, Wis.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, claims MacArthur committed sexual abuse and accuses the dioceses and bishops of fraud, concealment and negligence.

Carlson said Wednesday afternoon that he had not seen the lawsuit but had been in contact with DeLonga.

"She's a very nice person," Carlson said. "We're very sorry this happened. We'll continue to work with her and other victims."

Carlson said the Sioux Falls Diocese had turned over MacArthur's records to the state Division of Criminal Investigation and acknowledged that the diocese has been contacted by other people who said they were victims of MacArthur's alleged sexual misconduct, although he did not have the specific number.

MacArthur does not have a telephone and could not be reached.

DeLonga is represented in the lawsuit by Jeffrey Anderson of St. Paul and Rick Johnson and Stephanie Pochop of Johnson Eklund Nicholson & Peterson of Gregory.

According to the lawsuit, the late Bishop Lambert Hoch was notified in 1963 of a problem with MacArthur involving sexual misconduct with a minor. Hoch then sent MacArthur to a center that treated priests for sexually abusive behaviors. In 1964, MacArthur was assigned to Ramona. When another complaint occurred, the bishop sent MacArthur to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

A Feb. 28, 1965, letter from Hoch to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee referred to the decision to move MacArthur from the Sioux Falls Diocese.

DeLonga charges that MacArthur first began abusing her when she was 10 years old and had been admitted to the hospital where MacArthur served as a chaplain. She alleges that the abuse continued until she was in high school, even after MacArthur had returned to the Sioux Falls Diocese.

DeLonga said that the actual abuse began in the hospital room where she first met MacArthur. He quickly became accepted as a regular visitor to her parents' home.

"He was very friendly," said DeLonga, a former teacher who has been married for about five years. "I still remember him coming into my hospital room. He seemed kind, he was smiling. He was nice."

Anderson, who is nationally known for his representation of victims of sexual abuse by the clergy, praised Carlson for his work with DeLonga.

"He's been very forthcoming, to his credit," Anderson said. "He was able to help Judy confront MacArthur."

After DeLonga requested an apology from MacArthur and a face-to-face meeting, Carlson contacted MacArthur and accompanied him to Florida.

In a letter to DeLonga dated September 2002, MacArthur wrote, "I wish to achnowledge (sic) my immoral and grevous (sic) acts with you not only because they are contrary to human nature, but also, because, I am a priest and I took you away from Christ the High Priest."

But Anderson saved his harshest criticism for Dudley, saying the retired bishop had conspired to keep MacArthur's sexual misconduct from the parishes he served, the public and the police.

"They're supposed to be healers, not concealers," Anderson said. "I've been doing this for 22 years. ... It's sickening that I'm still here."

Earlier this year, Dudley was cleared of sexual-abuse allegations after a six-month investigation by investigators for the Archdiocese of St. Paul.

A Minneapolis man said Dudley abused him more than 45 years ago when the man was an altar boy at a south Minneapolis parish. Two additional complaints were presented privately to the archdiocese by women alleging misconduct by Dudley in the 1960s and 1970s.

Jerry Topczewski, a spokesman for the Milwaukee Archdiocese, said Thursday that it had not previously received any abuse allegations concerning MacArthur. He said the priest had served at St. Therese and St. Philip Neri parishes in Milwaukee and St. Joseph Hospital in Beaver Dam between March of 1965 and June of 1970.

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