Another civil suit filed against Diocese

Arizona Daily Star/June 10, 2004
By Stephanie Innes

Another accusation of sexual abuse by a priest who once worked in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson surfaced this week in a civil action filed in Pima County Superior Court.

The lawsuit, which in addition to the local diocese also names Immaculate Heart Catholic Church and Academy on Tucson's Northwest Side as defendants, brings to 19 the number of pending lawsuits against the local diocese involving allegations of sexual misconduct by clergy.

One of those cases, involving sexual-abuse claims by a former Tucson altar boy against Monsignor Robert C. Trupia, whom the diocese is trying to permanently remove from the priesthood, is scheduled to go to trial in Tucson on June 29.

The latest legal action involves alleged misconduct from four decades ago by a priest at Immaculate Heart Academy, where the plaintiff was a student.

"Jane Doe" was also a parishioner at Immaculate Heart Catholic Church, according to the lawsuit, filed this week by Tucson attorney Bruce G. MacDonald.

The Arizona Daily Star is not naming the priest because diocese officials were not available Thursday to comment on his record, his whereabouts, or whether he is still alive.

Neither MacDonald nor diocese officials returned calls Thursday afternoon about the latest legal action against the diocese, which has already paid out more than $17 million in settlement money to people who say they were sexually abused by Diocese of Tucson employees, most of them priests.

The accused priest is not named on a list of 26 clerics with "credible" accusations of sexual abuse to children against them that the local diocese made public in the summer of 2002 shortly after reaching a multi-million dollar settlement with 10 men who said they were molested by six local clergymen during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

Three of those 26 priests are in prison on charges related to sexual misconduct with minors.

The latest lawsuit says that Jane Doe did not realize that she had been molested until October 2002.

According to a 1998 Arizona Supreme Court ruling, in order to file a civil action on an old sexual abuse case in Arizona, a plaintiff must prove he or she had repressed memory of the abuse.

All 10 men who settled with the diocese in 2002 said they'd repressed their memories of molestation.

Jane Doe also names other priests as defendants but speaks of one priest as the key perpetrator and the lawsuit does not list full names for all the other priests.

The civil action, which seeks no specific dollar amount, asks the diocese for compensatory and punitive damages as well as legal costs and, "other and further relief as the court determines to be appropriate under the circumstances."

Litigation and counseling related to accusations of sexual abuse of minor in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson has cost nearly $1 million, not including the cost of legal settlements to victims, now an estimated $17.9 million.

The exact figure is not available because the multi-million dollar payout the diocese made in 2002 was out-of-court and confidential.

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