Saturday, April 3, 2004

Cleric may be questioned

Louisville archbishop can be deposed in priest abuse case, judge says

The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - A judge has ruled that Louisville Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly may be questioned under oath in a pending lawsuit that accuses a priest of sexual abuse of a child.

Kyle Burden is the only eligible plaintiff who opted out of the $25.7 million settlement with 243 plaintiffs that was reached in June. Burden has said he hopes his lawsuit will bring answers to the questions that he has for Kelly.

"He wants Archbishop Kelly to stand up and say, 'Here's what I knew, here's what I did, and here's what I didn't do,' " said Wallace Rogers, Burden's attorney. "It's a big emotional and psychological victory" for his client.

Burden's lawsuit accuses the Rev. Daniel Clark of fondling him in 1982 after Burden, then 12, got a bloody nose while playing softball at St. Rita, where he attended school and Clark was a priest. Burden alleged that Clark drove him home and fondled him.

Clark pleaded guilty in 1988 to sexually abusing two boys in 1981 and 1982. He is serving a 10-year prison sentence he received in Bullitt County on sexual abuse charges.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Thomas Wine ruled Thursday that Kelly may be deposed in Burden's case.

In November, Wine denied the archdiocese's motion for summary judgment in the Burden case, ruling that the church failed to prove that Burden hadn't filed his lawsuit in a timely fashion.

The church appealed and had hoped to postpone any deposition of Kelly until the appeal was final. Rogers and Burden want to depose Kelly now, to make sure the task is completed while the archbishop is available.

Wine ruled that the deposition could proceed but that it will be sealed until the appeal is finished, Rogers said.

Archdiocesan spokeswoman Cecelia Price said the church would not appeal Wine's decision.

"We've accepted the judge's decision," she said. "Our only point was that since it's on appeal, why take the time now to do a deposition?"

Neither Price nor Rogers knew when Kelly's deposition would take place, saying they would schedule it in the next few months.

Burden's case is the only one remaining to accuse the archdiocese of concealing abuse by a priest who had been convicted criminally before the surge of more than 250 lawsuits that began in April 2002.

Burden could not be reached for comment.

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