November 17, 2005

Sexual abuse lawsuit filed against Archmere, Diocese of Wilmington

The News Journal

The News Journal
A U.S. Navy officer filed a lawsuit today against Archmere Academy and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, claiming that he was sexually molested while he was an Archmere student in the 1980s.

Lt. Cmdr. Kenneth J. Whitwell, 37, of Virginia, said the Rev. Edward J. Smith sexually abused him while they were on ski trips in Vermont in 1984 and 1985. At the time, Smith was an English teacher at Archmere in Claymont. He later went on to serve as treasurer of the school’s Board of Trustees from 1997 until 2001, according to Archmere officials.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Wilmington and demands at least $75,000 in damages from Smith, Archmere Academy Inc., the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington and the Rev. Michael A. Saltarelli, the bishop of Wilmington. The religious order that serves Archmere, the Norbertine Fathers, was not sued.

Smith was working for the Norbertine’s business office on the Archmere campus in 2002 when he was accused of sexually abusing children in the late 1970s while he was assigned to Bishop Neumann High School in Philadelphia. He was put on administrative leave in 2002 and not allowed to engage in active ministry under the Catholic Church’s “zero tolerance” policy.

Posted by kshaw at November 17, 2005 11:04 AM