March 16, 2005

Suit against church dealt setback

The Tennessean

Staff Writer

Two men who say they were molested by a former priest were dealt a setback yesterday in their $68 million lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Nashville when a judge ruled they were not entitled to information about pedophile priests other than their abuser.

The plaintiffs, who are known in court papers only as John Doe 1 and John Doe 2, were hoping to show a pattern of abuse by priests and recklessness on the part of church officials. A lawyer for the church called the request a ''witch hunt.''

But Davidson County Circuit Judge Walter Kurtz ruled that the plaintiffs would be limited to information maintained by the diocese about former Nashville priest Edward McKeown, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence for abusing one of the victims.

The decision was protested sharply by one of the plaintiff's attorneys, who complained that the ruling greatly restricted the victims' case.

''The problem is how they handled other pedophiles is probative of their recklessness,'' lawyer John Day told the judge.

McKeown, a longtime priest in Nashville, was forced to leave the priesthood in 1989, after he admitted molesting several boys.

Posted by kshaw at March 16, 2005 06:29 AM