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Repressed or dormant memories of clergy abuse during 2003:

bullet 2003-JAN-31: Nebraska: James Duffy, a resident of Arizona, alleges that he was repeatedly sexually abused by two employees of Father Flanagan's Boys Home -- a priest and a counselor -- starting in 1978. He claims that he repressed memories of the abuse at the time, and only recovered them after 2002-FEB. Robert Goodman, also a resident of Arizona, alleges that he was physically and sexually molested in 1973 and 1974 while he was a student at St. Joseph's Catholic Church grade school, in York NB. He also recovered memories of the abuse recently. 1
bullet 2003-FEB-12: Missouri: Jephrey Hemmer alleges that Fr. Joseph Schwaegel sexually abused him on three occasions during 1973 in the rectory of St. Peter's Cathedral in Belleville, when he was nine years of age. Hemmer says that he repressed the memory of the abuse until 1998. The case was settled out of court. 2
bullet 2003-MAR-13: Florida: "John Doe" sues Archdiocese of Miami: A 38 year-old man filed a lawsuit against  the Archdiocese of Miami on, claiming he was sexually abused at the age of 17 by a priest who was his guidance counselor at a parochial high school, St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale. The priest has since died. "Doe" claims that he repressed the memories of the incident until last year. 3
bullet 2003-MAR-14: Nebraska: Second man alleges sexual abuse: Randy Pfeifer of Colorado filed a lawsuit alleging that Monsignor Jerome C. Murray physically and sexually molested him on repeated occasions from 1974 to 1976 while Pfeifer attended fifth through seventh grades at St. Joseph's Catholic Church grade school in York, NE. He claims that he repressed memories of the abuse until some time after 2002-FEB. 4
bullet 2003-MAR-25: Nebraska: Another man, only known as John Doe, is alleging that he was sexually abused in Body's Town between 1981 and 1987. The lawsuit charges that the defendants "each engaged in separate, wide-ranging plans to use their influence and positions" at Boys Town to sexually abuse youths who lived there. It says that that his memory of the sexual abuse was repressed. He started recovering the memories on or after 2002-MAR-27. 5
bullet 2003-MAR-31: Oklahoma: Attorney Philip Schovanec filed a lawsuit against a retired Roman Catholic priest and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, Schovanec alleges that he was sexually abused two decades ago when he was 13 to 15 years of age. The lawsuit claims that Schovanec has experienced a variety of psychological and emotional problems "including great shame, guilt, self-blame, repression and disassociation." He claims that he only began to recall the abuse in 2002. 6
bullet 2003-APR-4: Florida: "Jane Doe" filed a lawsuit in 2002-DEC, claiming that her teacher, a priest at Cardinal Newman High School, sexually assaulted her at least ten times during 1971 and 1972 in the school's rectory. The priest denies the allegations. "Jane" says that she repressed her memory of the sexual attacks until 2002. 7 On 2003-JUN-27, circuit judge William Berger ruled that she could no longer remain anonymous if she wanted to pursue the case. He believed that the priest could not effectively defend himself against 30 year old allegations by an unknown person.
bullet 2003-MAY-10: Florida: A former resident of Camp Tracey, a camp for troubled youths run by the Harvest Baptist Church in Arlington FL, is suing two of its counselors. He alleges that he was sexually and physically abused while he was a resident from 1988 to 1992. He has allegedly repressed the memories of the abuse until about six months ago. In 1987, after years of physical abuse allegations by children and parents, a grand jury investigated Camp Tracey. They criticized the administration because of what they felt was excessive corporal punishment and the use of ropes and handcuffs to restrain children. 8
bullet 2003-MAY-23: Texas: A man has accused his former priest of many brutal sexual assaults, some 25 years ago in San Antonio TX. The alleged victim was 13 years of age at the time. In what may be an indication of dormant memories, he said that he repressed the memories, and that all of the memories resurfaced violently early in 2003. 9
bullet 2003-OCT-9: Indiana: Two brothers, who were altar boys at St. Mary Catholic Church in Richmond. IN allege that a priest repeatedly assaulted them between 1951 and 1957. Both brothers have been through through therapy and counseling. According to a news source, the complaint says both brothers developed "coping mechanisms" that "caused them to suppress the memory of the abuse." It also asserts both brothers "continue to suffer great pain of mind and body, shock, emotional distress, physical manifestations of emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, disgrace, humiliation, and loss of enjoyment of life." 10
bullet 2003-OCT-13: New York: A former altar boy from Dunkirk, NY, has accused a Catholic priest of sexually abusing him in 1983. The lawsuit allegedly states that the plaintiff developed amnesia and "completely lost or suppressed the memory of the abuse" until after 1999-SEP. The priest says he has been "falsely accused."  11

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Repressed or dormant memories of clergy abuse during 2004:

bullet 2004-JUN-16: Arizona: Roman Catholic diocese to file for bankruptcy: The Arizona Daily Star reported that: "Lawyers for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson say Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas is making plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection." This would be the first time that a Roman Catholic diocese in the U.S. has filed for bankruptcy protection. Parisoners would find themselves as part of a church whose major purchases must be pre-approved by the courts.

The diocese's financial plight was partly caused by an out-of-court settlement with ten men who claimed that they had repressed memories of sexual molestation during the 1960s to 1980s by four local clergy. The amount has not been made public, but is believed by some to be as high as $16 million. There are currently 19 additional cases pending. 12

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Repressed or dormant memories of clergy abuse during 2005:

bullet 2005-JAN-03: Massachusetts: Shanley case goes to jury: There have been many charges of childhood sexual abuse against Roman Catholic priests in Massachusetts. However, most did not result in trials because of the statute of limitations. Paul Shanley, a priest who was defrocked by the Vatican in 2004, is an exception. He moved away from the state. This "stopped the clock" on the statute of limitations and allowed police to arrest Shanley in California. Church personnel records showed that the Archdiocese knew that Shanley advocated sex between men and boys. Yet, they continued to transfer him from parish to parish. Shanley is now 74. His accuser is 27. The charges relate to allegations by four accusers that they suffered sexual abuse between 1979 and 1989 at St. Jean's parish in Newton, MA. Charges were dropped in all but one case. His remaining accuser testified that he had suddenly recovered memories of the event when he heard media reports about the sexual abuse crisis among clergy in 2002. If true, this would appear to be a case of dormant memories, which suddenly return as an overwhelming recollection of a series of events; they are not the more common type of recovered memories developed gradually over a long period of time during suggestive therapy. The Defense attorneys had only one witness: Elizabeth Loftus -- a psychologist who questioned the accuracy and validity of repressed memories. 13 Shanley's original main accuser, Gregory Ford, allegedly asserted that Fr. Shanley had removed him 80 times from his Sunday school classed, raped him, and then returned him to class. The director of the Sunday school program testified that she never saw Shanley take a child from the class. 14
bullet 2005-FEB-7: Paul Shanley was found guilty of abusing child: The jury determined that Paul Shanley was guilty of repeatedly molesting a boy at his church during the 1980s. He was convicted on all four charges. According to the Associated Press, "After Shanley was led away from the courtroom, his niece, Teresa Shanley, told reporters: 'There are no winners today. There are only losers. We're no closer to finding out the truth about this scandal or finding out what happened'." David Clohessy, the national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abuse by Priests (SNAP) said: "This shows that when survivors find the strength to speak up, sometimes, sometimes, kids are protected, and justice can happen. When survivors stay silent, nothing changes....We're very grateful for and proud of all the Shanley victims, because they all played a role here." 15
bullet 2005-FEB-25: Texas: Priest accused of sexual abuse: John Doe I and John Doe II, both from Texas, allege they were sexually abused by the Rev. Thomas H. Teczar, a Roman Catholic priest after he was transferred to the Fort Worth diocese in 1988. They allege that they had repressed and later recovered memories of the abuse. The judge in the case has reserved his judgment on whether to accept as experts two clinical psychologists from Dallas who assert that memory repression and recovery exist. Harrison Pope, a Boston psychologist who is a scientific advisor the False Memory Syndrome Foundation has testified that he does not believe in repressed or suppressed memory. 16
bullet 2005-FEB-25: Texas: Florida woman suing the San Antonio Archdiocese: Judy Rakestraw of Miami FL is suring the Catholic Archdiocese of San Antonio because of alleged abuse that began at St. John the EvangelistsSchool about four decades ago. She claimed that Father Myron Suize who worked for the school as a teacher and coach, repeatedly fondled her over a period of three years and once attempted to rape her during her teenage years. Adam Horowitz, her attorney, said: "The abuse our client sustained was so traumatic, that it was only within the last few years, as a result of on-going psychotherapy that she recovered her memory....Our client is a very brave woman; she's actually the head of a survivors' group of victims in Miami. She's made the decision to sue in her own name, because as head of the survivors' group, she's come across so many victims that she wants to send a message to the Catholic Church." 17
bullet 2005-MAR-03: New Mexico: Alleged dormant memories of abuse surface: When his wife surfed a web site dedicated to alleged victims of priest sex abuse in New Mexico, memories of abuse suddenly came flooding back to a man who is now in his 40s. He grew up in Los Alamos and now lives out of state. Previous allegations by at least seven other persons claiming to be victims of the same priest date back to 1995. The accused priest is now in his 70s and is still active in the Albuquerque Roman Catholic diocese. David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said: "I do not know of a single case anywhere where a currently active priest facing six, seven, eight or nine allegations is allowed to remain around kids." He has delivered a letter to the archdiocese chancery in Albuquerque, asking that the priest be suspended. The priest has denied any wrongdoing and has been cleared twice by an Archdiocese Review Board. 18

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  1. Mark Thiessen, "Boys Town, Nebraska church school accused in sexual abuse lawsuits," Associated Press, 2003-JAN-31.
  2. "Man alleging abuse, former priest settle suit," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2003-FEB-21, Page B2.
  3. Tim Reynolds, "Man sues Archdiocese of Miami, claiming abuse by now-dead priest," Associated Press, 2003-MAR-13.
  4. Margery Beck, "Colorado man accuses Lincoln priest of sex abuse," Associated Press, 2003-MAR-14.
  5. Stephen Buttry, " Second suit alleges Boys Town abuse An unidentified man says he was molested by the Rev. James Kelly and Michael Wolf," Omaha World Herald (Nebraska), 2003-MAR-25, Page 4b.
  6. Tim Talley, "Lawyer sues former priest over sexual abuse," Associated Press 2003-MAR-31.
  7. Bill Douthat, "Judge recuses from priest sex case," 2003-APR-4, Palm Beach Post, Page 3B.
  8. Paul Pinkham "Man sues church, alleges abuse; Harvest Baptist's Camp Tracey cited," Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, FL, 2003-MAY-10, Page B-1.
  9. Carly Miller, "Man Claims He Was Sexually Assaulted By San Antonio Priest," news, 2003-MAY-24, at:
  10. Don Fasnacht, "Brothers accuse priest of abuse," Palladium-Item, Richmond, IN, 2003-OCT-9, Page 1 & 2A.
  11. Jay Tokasz, "Ex-area priest, diocese face Florida suit alleging abuse," Buffalo News, Buffalo, NY, 2003-OCT-13, Page B1.
  12. Stephanie Innes, "Dioces of Tuscon weighs bankruptcy," The Arizona Daily Star, 2004-JUN-16.
  13. Denise Lavoie, "Jury in case against defrocked priest to resume deliberations Monday," Associated Press, 2005-FEB-04.
  14. Rory Connor, "The conviction of (Father) Paul Shanley," at:
  15. Denise Lavoie, "Jury finds defrocked priest guilty of repeatedly molesting parishioner," Associated Press, 2005-FEB-07.
  16. Kathleen A. Shaw, "Teczar awaits ruling on psychologists," Telegram & Gazette, (Massachusetts), 2005-FEB-26, Page A2.
  17. Posting on KENS 5 Eyewitness News, 2005-FEB-25.
  18. Joline Gutierrez Krueger, "Abuse memories flood back," Albuquerque Tribune (New Mexico), 2005-MAR-03, Page A2.

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Copyright 2002 to 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-JUL-30
Latest update: 2005-MAR-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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