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Minn. Lawsuit Accuses Dead Irish Priest Of Abuse

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(credit: JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

(credit: JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

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NEW ULM, Minn. (AP) — A man who says he was sexually abused by an Irish priest during his brief stay in Minnesota in 1982 sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of New Ulm on Tuesday, becoming the latest of several plaintiffs to take advantage of a new law easing the state’s statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse.

Attorney Patrick Noaker filed the lawsuit in Brown County District Court in New Ulm on behalf of a man identified only as John Doe 103. He says he was molested by Francis Markey, a priest who was extradited from Indiana to Ireland in 2010 to face charges of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy there in 1968, but who died at the age of 84 last year before he could go on trial.

John Doe 103 says in the lawsuit that he was about 15 years old and in 10th grade when Markey abused him in 1982 while he served at St. Joseph Parish in Henderson.

The lawsuit accuses the Diocese of New Ulm of negligence, alleging church officials knew Markey had been accused of sexually abusing children elsewhere and knew he had undergone treatment for pedophilia at three separate facilities in his native Ireland, England and New Mexico.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages in excess of $50,000, plus a court order compelling the diocese to take a series of steps to publicize the names of other priests and church members in the diocese who’ve sexually abused people, to encourage victims to come forward, to provide them with medical and mental health treatment, and to provide them with spiritual counseling. It also seeks a series of steps to prevent future abuse as well as a letter of apology from the Bishop of New Ulm to the plaintiff.

Monsignor Douglas Grams said the diocese had no records of Markey ever being assigned to the church in Henderson, but that he may have filled at the parish during the approximately six months he spent in Minnesota while enrolled in a clinical pastoral education program at the Willmar State Hospital. Grams denied that the diocese knew Markey had been treated for pedophilia or had been accused of abusing children before it allowed him to do temporary pastoral work.

“Had we known he never would have served in our diocese,” he said.

Markey was stripped of his duties in 1982 after parents complained he was overly affectionate with boys, Grams said, and that was the last time the diocese had contact with him.

The diocese issued a statement saying it “deeply regrets the long-lasting and devastating effects of sexual misconduct on the part of clergy.” It said it’s been diligent in trying to establish a safe environment to prevent sexual misconduct. And it encouraged anyone who’s been abused by a clergy member to report the misconduct to the diocese.

In 2011, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against the diocese by a different plaintiff who alleged Markey abused him in 1982 in and around the parish of St. Andrew Catholic Church in Granite Falls.

Markey moved in 1990 to South Bend, Ind., where and counseled drug and alcohol abusers before he was arrested in 2009 on the Irish charges.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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