INDIANAPOLIS— A judge has rejected an archdiocese’s request to dismiss a lawsuit filed over a "serial predator" priest accused of molesting numerous boys over a decade.
The judge said in his Dec. 20 order rejecting the request for summary judgment that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis’ argument that the six-year statute of limitations had run out does not apply to the lawsuit regarding its employment of Harry Monroe.
"There is no dispute" that Monroe molested the plaintiff between 1976 and 1978, wrote Marion Superior Court Judge David Shaheed.
But he said the six-year statute of limitations does not apply to the suit’s fraud allegation because the plaintiff did not learn until 2005 that the church knew Monroe had molested boys before he was assigned to the parish where the plaintiff claims he was molested.
"The court finds that the plaintiff has filed his claim alleging actual fraud within the time frame" set by state law, Shaheed wrote in his order clearing the way for the case to proceed to trial.
Archdiocese spokesman Greg Otolski said Thursday that he had not seen Shaheed’s ruling and cannot comment on any pending litigation.
The lawsuit accuses the archdiocese of fraud, alleging that the church deceived members of an Indianapolis parish that Monroe was suited to minister to young boys.
The plaintiff, who’s now in his 40s, is identified in court documents only as John Doe. His lawsuit claims that he was 10 when Monroe began molesting him in 1977 at the now closed St. Catherine Parish in Indianapolis.
His attorney, Patrick Noaker, has argued that the archdiocese should be held liable for fraud for reassigning Monroe to different parishes after it learned of the molesting allegations against him. Monroe has been named in 13 cases that accuse him of molesting boys between 1974 and 1984 at a series of parishes in Indianapolis, Terre Haute and remote Perry County along the Ohio River.
David Clohessy, the director of the Survivors Network of those Abuse by Priests, said he is pleased with the ruling but that he wouldn’t be surprised if the archdiocese appeals.
"We’re grateful for the judge’s wisdom and compassion and for the survivor’s courage, and we think it’s shameful that church officials would try to exploit a technicality to evade their responsibility for an admitted predator," Clohessy said.
"We also hope that this ruling will encourage anyone who saw or suspected or suffered from Monroe’s crimes to come forward and get help and contact the police."
On Dec. 17, an attorney for the archdiocese acknowledged in court that Monroe "was a child molester and serial predator" of young boys who committed "heinous crimes against young boys."
Monroe, who has never been formally removed from the priesthood by the Vatican, has given a deposition in which he admitted lewd behavior or sex acts with at least five boys.