St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, who represents hundreds of clergy child sex abuse victims across the U.S., says the Vatican has refused to be served with the lawsuit of an Illinois man who claims he was sexually abused by a now-deceased priest at a Wisconsin school for the deaf.
The lawsuit was filed in October against Vatican officials in federal court in Wisconsin on behalf of a Chicago man who says he was sexually abused decades ago as a child at St. John’s School for the Deaf in Milwaukee.
Anderson said at a news conference at his office on Monday the Vatican "shunned" and "rebuffed" the lawsuit by returning it via Federal Express after his office served it last week at the Vatican's office of the Assessor for General Affairs.
Anderson said he plans to ask New York City Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who was formerly archbishop of Milwaukee, to intervene and "take some action to get the pope’s attention concerning this suit and the problem that underlines it."
Jeffrey Lena, the U.S.-based attorney for the Vatican, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Sunday that the lawsuit should have been served through diplomatic channels as would be done with any foreign state. He wrote that holding a news conference on such a matter "is really just a form of grandstanding by Mr. Anderson for the press and the public."
Anderson rebuked the comments on Monday and urged Vatican officials "to stop hiding, to stop delaying and stop obstructing the healing and any closure being sought by survivors" in this case and others.
Anderson’s client is Terry Kohut, a 60-year-old deaf man who says the late Rev. Lawrence Murphy molested him for several years starting around 1960 while Murphy worked at the school for the deaf.
Anderson has accused Pope Benedict and senior Vatican officials of failing to defrock Murphy despite allegations that he molested at least 200 deaf children over 25 years. Anderson has filed several lawsuits related to the allegations against Murphy.