From the Louisville Courier-Journal.
A federal judge issued a “historic” decision Thursday by refusing to dismiss a lawsuit against the Vatican that alleges a cover-up to protect priests who molested American children.
“This is the first and only case which has as its sole objective holding the Vatican financially accountable for all of the childhood sexual abuses committed in the U.S.,” said Louisville attorney William McMurry, who filed the suit in 2004 on behalf of three men alleging abuse as far back as 1928.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II allows the men to pursue negligence claims against the Vatican over allegations of sexual abuse by priests in the Archdiocese of Louisville.
McMurry, who in 2003 represented 243 abuse victims in reaching a $25.7 million settlement with the Archdiocese of Louisville, said in an interview that he expects the ruling would be appealed.
But if the decision holds up, it could open the door for attorneys to take depositions of Vatican officials, obtain copies of church documents and ultimately determine “what prompted all of the bishops to keep quiet, hide these pedophiles and refuse to report child abusers,” McMurry said.
Vatican officials declined to comment on Heyburn’s ruling, according to The Associated Press.
In the suit, McMurry is asking for unspecified monetary damages from the Vatican. He also is requesting injunctions requiring the Vatican to “cease its violations of the internationally recognized human rights of children” and “to report all allegations of childhood sexual abuse” in the United States.
And he is asking a federal judge to supervise the Vatican’s conduct for 10 years. One of the three plaintiffs in the suit is Michael Turner of Louisville, who also filed the first in a wave of roughly 250 lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Louisville between 2002 and 2003.
The litigation culminated in a $25.7 million settlement with most of the plaintiffs. McMurry and his legal team received 40 percent of most plaintiffs’ payments.Turner was molested by the Rev. Louis E. Miller in the 1970s, when Turner attended St. Aloysius Church in Pewee Valley. Turner, 46, said he joined the suit to complete unfinished business — finding out who was responsible for tolerating abuse.
The other two plaintiffs are James H. O’Bryan and Donald E. Poppe, both of whom live in California and say they were abused by priests while growing up in Louisville.