Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Archdiocese sued over priest


Women: Church failed to safeguard kids

By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Two women accused Catholic church leaders Tuesday of failing to protect children overseas from an abusive Vatican priest with ties to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

In a lawsuit filed in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, the two unidentified women complained that the priest, Daniel Pater, traveled the world with little or no oversight while working for the Vatican in the 1980s and 1990s.

They claim church officials failed to keep Pater away from children despite promises they would and despite previous allegations of abuse against him.

"(Pater) has been in numerous third world countries, including but not limited to Australia, Zaire and India ... in situations where he could abuse children with impunity," the lawsuit states.

Church officials said they did not mislead anyone about Pater's past. They said they were aware of only one allegation against him, and it involved one of the two women who sued the archdiocese Tuesday.

In that case, the archdiocese settled out of court in 1995 and paid the woman an undisclosed amount.

A separate settlement between the woman and Pater included a promise that she would not "initiate" a criminal prosecution of the priest. The settlement with the church included no such language, although church officials did not notify authorities of the complaint.

The woman claims Pater began sexually abusing her in the early 1980s, when she was 14 to 16 years old. Pater was assigned to St. Charles Church near Dayton at the time, and the woman was a student at Alter High School.

Until Tuesday, church officials said, that woman was the only one to complain about Pater. They said they learned of the second woman from the lawsuit.

Archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco said the first complaint was made in 1993, prompting church leaders in Cincinnati to recall Pater from Rome and to order him to stay away from children. He later returned to the Vatican and resumed his duties there.

When asked if the restrictions against contact with children were enforced, Andriacco said he didn't know. "His supervisors (in Rome) were informed of the restrictions on him," Andriacco said.

He also said the archdiocese did not attempt to conceal the allegations, as the lawsuit claims. Although terms of the settlement were confidential, the woman's lawsuit was reported in the media in 1993.

Pater returned from Rome two years ago and has been suspended from ministry.

Email dhorn@enquirer.com




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