Hes next to God, accuser says
DENVER (AP) Three men who claim they were sexually abused by a Colorado priest filed lawsuits Tuesday accusing the Archdiocese of Denver of providing a sanctuary to a known child molester, their lawyers said.Five lawsuits, including two that seek at least $10 million, are now pending claiming the archdiocese knew of allegations that former priest Harold Robert White, who once worked in Minturn, was sexually abusing children but only transferred him to different parishes.Two lawsuits filed Tuesday claim White abused at least 16 boys in eleven parishes across the state after he was ordained in 1960, according to copies provided by attorney Jeff Anderson.Its somebody you look up to, hes next to God. And when youre that young, you dont say anything, said Brandon Trask, whose lawsuit claims White abused him when he was 12 and both lived in Minturn. Ive been silent for 30 years, but Im speaking now. And this is where it ends, Trask said, quivering with emotion as he talked with reporters.
White, who was removed from public ministry in 1993 and left the priesthood in 2004, did not have a listed phone number in the Denver area, where he reportedly lives.Archdiocese chancellor Francis Maier said he could not comment because church officials had not seen the three new complaints.In a letter posted on the archdiocese Web site, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said every allegation of sexual misconduct is taken with the gravity and urgency it deserves but that the archdiocese cannot control allegations concerning the past.We do not, and will not, tolerate any priest in service in the archdiocese with a credible claim of sexual abuse of a minor against him, the letter said.The latest lawsuits were expected to be filed in Denver District Court by Trask, who lives in Long Beach, Calif., Greg Roberts of Fort Collins, and a man listed only as John Doe. The courthouse couldnt immediately confirm whether the documents had been filed.Trask, 49, said White began abusing him in the early 1970s, when White was the pastor of St. Patricks Church in Minturn. White has said he doesnt remember Trask or the alleged abuse.Trask said he contacted the Minturn church 1 1/2 years ago and spoke with a priest, who promised to follow up but never called back. Trask called again and retold his story to a different priest, who contacted the archdiocese.Trask said he spent more than an hour recalling his abuse before an eight-member conduct response team, after which one member abruptly left saying he was done rehashing the issue.Its like youre being re-raped again, in front of eight people, Trask said.Roberts lawsuit accused White of abusing him beginning in the late 1960s while Roberts was an altar boy at a church in Sterling, according to a draft of the suit provided by Herman & Mermelstein, a Miami-based law firm specializing in sexual abuse cases. The suit seeks almost $10 million.While it is the policy of The Associated Press not to identify alleged victims of sexual assault, lawyers for Trask and Roberts released their names in news releases.The lawsuits say White was also at parishes in Denver, Colorado Springs, Loveland, Aspen, Wheat Ridge, Grand Lake, Steamboat Springs and Eagle.The truth is that Father White is and was a serial predator and was given sanctuary by the archdiocese for three decades in eleven parishes, Barbara Blaine, founder of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said as she stood with several other alleged victims. We want other victims to know they can come forward.Delbert Nielsen III, 53, of Carlsbad, N.M., and Tom Koldeway, 44, of Anchorage, Alaska, filed lawsuits last week claiming White also molested them when they were children.The cases are the first for the Denver archdiocese since the sexual abuse scandal broke in the Roman Catholic Church in 2002.A review by The Associated Press of known sexual abuse settlements found that the church has paid out more than $1 billion because in the United States since 1950. The figure, compiled in June and expected to rise because of hundreds of unsettled cases, includes settlement packages, legal fees, counseling and other expenses.Vail, Colorado
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