May 18, 2005

Signs of abuse ignored at day care, suits say

The Dallas Morning News

08:23 PM CDT on Wednesday, May 18, 2005

By BROOKS EGERTON / The Dallas Morning News

One was a popular longtime parishioner. The other was a clown with a criminal record, a falsified resumé – and a recommendation from a deacon.

For most of the 1990s, they worked at St. Pius X Catholic Church's child care center in Far East Dallas. Each was the target of complaints about his behavior with little girls. Each turned out to be a child molester and is now in prison.

Lawsuits set for trial beginning next month say center officials ignored "red flags" about the men, despite tremendously expensive 1990s litigation showing that Dallas Catholic Diocese leaders had turned a blind eye to evidence of sexual abuse by priests.

Church officials blame everything on the child care workers, saying in court filings that the men managed to deceive everyone around them. The officials declined several requests to be interviewed about the cases and didn't respond to written questions.

The lawsuits come at a difficult time for diocesan leaders. They face a broader criminal investigation of how they handle sexual misconduct allegations. They are still trying to recover from the past clergy cases, which cost them nearly $40 million in payments to victims. And a priest who was a leading supporter of Bishop Charles Grahmann's management of those cases was recently arrested on child pornography charges.

Posted by kshaw at May 18, 2005 08:36 PM