Former Colorado priest accused of sex abuse
PUEBLO, Colorado ” A former Catholic priest faces a lawsuit from two men who say they were abused in southern Colorado two decades ago.
The lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Pueblo and former priest William Groves alleges abuse in the 1980s at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Walsenburg and St. Ignatius Church in Ignacio. Groves was a priest at those sites.
The plaintiffs are identified only as “John Doe.” The men are seeking more than $1 million each. They say the diocese was aware of the abuse and failed to stop it.
Monsignor Mark Plewka of the Pueblo diocese told The Pueblo Chieftain he could not comment on the lawsuit.
Groves pleaded guilty to a felony charge of sexual assault on a child stemming from a September 1989 incident in Ignacio involving a 14-year-old boy. He was sentenced to four years of probation and ordered to undergo sex-offender treatment.
Groves left the priesthood after his conviction. The lawsuit alleges that the church misled parishioners in Ignacio about the reason Groves was leaving the priesthood.
Last year the Pueblo diocese joined the Society of Mary religious order in reaching a $4.2 million settlement with 23 former Roncalli High School students who accused former Marianist Brother William Mueller of molesting them.
Both of Groves’ accusers were born in 1974. One claimed Groves subjected him to abuse for seven years, concluding in 1990 during his youth in Walsenburg.
The other plaintiff claimed that when he was 12 years old and living in Ignacio, Groves introduced him to alcohol and marijuana, then committed sexual abuse on him and showed him pornography. The abuse allegedly lasted about one year.