Tag: Pueblo

Fr. John Beno – Diocese of Pueblo

Father John Beno

Diocese of Pueblo

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Fr. John Beno:

In October 2019, the Colorado Attorney General released a detailed report of a special investigation into the handling of child sexual abuse allegations by Colorado’s three Catholic dioceses.  For the first time, Fr. John Beno was publicly identified as a priest with multiple documented reports of sexual abuse.

According to the Report, Victim #1 reported her abuse to the Diocese of Pueblo in 1995.  She reported that she was a five year old girl at St. Francis Xavier in Pueblo when Beno asked her to come to the rectory with him.  Once there, she says that Beno forced her to perform oral sex upon him and then he raped her.  He told her that she had to keep it quiet because to tell anyone would be a mortal sin and she would no longer be considered a “child of God.”  She recalls that the incident occurred in late 1961.

The matter was later settled by the Diocese, despite the fact that Beno claimed he had no memory of the incident and did not believe that it happened.

Victim #2 reported her abuse to the Diocese of Pueblo in 2005.  According to her report, she was a junior at Seton High School in Pueblo when she encountered Beno.  He asked her to meet him in the basement at Our Lady of the Assumption parish in Pueblo, where he lived.  He then raped her and threatened her with excommunication if she told anyone.

She recalls that this incident occurred in 1968 or 1969 when she was about 16 years old.  The woman also told the Diocese that she met with Beno in 1985 at her request.  He arrived at their meeting with several lawyers, and admitted that the incident occurred.  She also said that he threatened her with eternal damnation and otherwise intimidated her into never telling her secret.

Beno died in late 2000.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Pueblo in Colorado.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Colorado, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Pueblo now have legal options, but filing deadlines will apply so do not delay in reaching out to us.  Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Colorado and nationwide. We can help.

Contact us at (888) 283-9922 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today.

Colorado Attorney General Releases Scathing Investigative Report on Sexual Abuse in Catholic Church

On October 23, 2019, the Colorado Attorney General’s Office released its investigative report on clergy sexual abuse in Colorado’s three Catholic Dioceses including the handling of these claims.

The Attorney General’s investigation, headed by former U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, found that the dioceses knew of more than 160 children were sexually abused by 43 priests over the last 70 years.  We believe this number is far lower than the actual number of victims.  The Attorney General’s office did not use subpoena power or search warrants. Instead, they relied on the Dioceses and their legal teams to self-report only those claims which they believed were “substantiated” after manually reviewing personnel files and other records.  Further, Religious Order priests — which represent one-third of all priests nationally – were excluded from the report.   Similarly, seminarians who abused and later became priests were excluded from the report as were those who abused vulnerable adults.

The Attorney General’s office also noted that the the Catholic Church often used euphemisms in their personnel records to describe sexual abuse or pedophile so unless the Diocese researcher was familiar with the euphemisms, those claims also would not be reported. By relying on the self-reporting by an organization who was historically disingenuous or flat-out dishonest when it came to child abuse reports, the Attorney General’s data should be expected to be far lower than the actually numbers.

The Attorney’s General’s report was in many cases also critical of the  impartiality of the Dioceses’ internal review boards who investigate allegations of sexual abuse and the role of the Victim’s Assistance Coordinator which had potential conflicts of interest.

Horowitz Law’s managing partner, Adam Horowitz, has handled dozens of matters in the Archdiocese of Denver and the Diocese of Pueblo.  When asked for comment on the Attorney General’s report, Horowitz told Colorado Public Radio:

“There will be many people who are angry. They thought it was just something that happened in their parish or their priest,” said Adam Horowitz, a Florida attorney currently representing a dozen people pursuing compensation fund claims against the church in Colorado. He also represented people in civil cases against the Denver archdiocese, including about White.

“I think the magnitude of the scandal will be exposed. This touched on nearly every parish in the diocese, every community in the state … almost every parish had a perpetrator come through.”

And other investigations, he said, have overlooked one of the most important questions: Who let this happen?

“I think that there should be a focus on not just the perpetrators but also the enablers,” he said. “Some of the enablers may still be in the priesthood.”

Notably, the most prolific abusers identified in the Attorney General Report are Harold Robert White with 63 victims and Leonard Abercrombie with 19 victims.

The Archdiocese of Denver, Diocese of Colorado Springs, and Diocese of Pueblo have all agreed to participate in a voluntary settlement fund called the Independent Reparations and Reconciliation Program (IRRP).  All claims must be registered with the fund by November 30, 2019. 

For more information on the Archdiocese of Denver, click here.

For more information on the Diocese of Pueblo, click here.

For more information on the Diocese of Colorado Springs, click here.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Denver in Colorado.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Colorado, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Archdiocese of Denver now have legal options, but filing deadlines will apply so do not delay in reaching out to us.  Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Colorado and nationwide. We can help.

Contact us at (888) 283-9922 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today.

What Do You Need to Know About the Diocese of Pueblo’s IRRP and Claims Packet? 

Pueblo Diocese

The three Catholic dioceses of Colorado, including the Diocese of Pueblo, have started a voluntary compensation for survivors of clergy sexual abuse.  

The program, sometimes called the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program (IRRP) or something similar, is being administered by Washington D.C.-based attorney Ken Feinberg and his business manager, Camille Biros.  The two have administered similar diocesan settlement funds nationwide over the past two years. The Colorado fund is expected to launch in October 2019, according to our information. 

Our attorneys have handled hundreds of claims in similar funds nationally since the creation of the first such fund for victims in the Archdiocese of New York.  

In the thousands of hours that we have spent working on the claims, we have noticed that our clients, all of whom are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, often ask us similar questions about the independent compensation programs.  We have included some of those questions – and the answers – for you now. 

For more information on the Archdiocese of Denver program, click here.

For more information on the Diocese of Colorado Springs, click here.

Question 1:  What is the Independent Compensation Program (IRRP)?

The Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program (IRRP) is a program created by the three Colorado Catholic dioceses: the Diocese of Pueblo, Diocese of Colorado Springs, and Archdiocese of Denver.  It is funded by the dioceses and, in most cases, their insurance companies.  

It is a voluntary program that allows survivors of childhood sexual abuse by clergymembers to participate in a simpler, more streamlined process of resolving their cases than traditional litigation (filing a lawsuit in court).  In often results in compensation being paid to survivors in a period of a few months.   

Question:  Who can file a claim in the Colorado IRRP? 

The program is open to anyone who was sexually abused by diocesan clergy (like a priest or a deacon) while the victim was under the age of 18.  The IRRP is not currently open to anyone sexually abused by members of a religious order or anyone who was a lay employee of the Diocese of Pueblo.  If you are not sure if the assailant was a diocesan priest or a member of a religious order (e.g., Jesuits, Franciscans, Salesians, any type of nun), we have various ways of obtaining that information. 

Even if your abuser was a member of a religious order, or if he/she was a lay employee of the diocese, like a teacher, we encourage you to call us today about your options.  In some cases, the programs have expanded into a new phase for those kinds of claims after the initial wave of cases are resolved.

Question:  I received the lengthy claims packet in the mail – what do I do now?  

If you have received a packet, we strongly encourage you to consult with an attorney before you attempt to submit the packet yourself.  The questions can seem daunting and confusing. An experienced attorney can mean the difference between a very small offer from the fund and a much bigger one.  People who file claims are not typically interviewed by the IRRP administrators so the claims packet is the one chance survivors have to tell their entire story from start to the present, and even the future, particularly if therapy or counseling will be needed in the future.  

Our attorneys have spent thousands of hours preparing compensation program claims packets for funds across the country.  We have a unique understanding of how to assemble supporting documents and present your case in a manner that gives the claims administrators the best and most complete information necessary to evaluate your claim.  

Question: What is a “claims packet?”

The claims packet is a 6 to 10 page form generated by Mr. Feinberg’s office.  The length – and the questions asked – vary by diocese. Typically the packet asks for some basic information about you and your background.  Of course, it also requests information about your sexual abuse experience and how it has affected you. It is these two areas that are the most important to the IRRP administrators, for various reasons – and that is exactly why you should consult with an attorney before you try to do anything on your own.  

Question: I didn’t get a claims packet in the mail but I think I am eligible for the IRRP.  What should I do?

The IRRP does have an open registration period during which anyone who thinks they are eligible to participate in the IRRP can request to do so.  During this very strict – and brief – registration period, the IRRP administrators will communicate with the Diocese of Pueblo to verify some preliminary information regarding the priest’s status with the Diocese and his assignment at the time of the abuse.  This is generally a routine review of basic facts that results in a claims packet being sent to our office.

All claims must be registered with the IRRP by November 30, 2019, so it is critically important that you contact us soon to discuss your options.  

Question:  I told another priest about my sexual abuse 25 years ago. I will get a claims packet from the IRRP eventually, right? 

The claims packets were sent to people that the dioceses each define as “people who made a prior report.”  This is a very particular term of art that is very strictly defined by the Diocese of Pueblo and its attorneys.  Not every report is a “report” under the rules that the Diocese and its partner dioceses wrote for the IRRP. For example, a verbal report to a parish pastor 20 years ago is not a “prior report” in the IRRP. 

In our experience, the lists of prior reports provided by each diocese are woefully incomplete.  Unless your claim was investigated by the Diocese’s internal review board, which typically takes several months and involves you giving a sworn, written statement, it is safe to assume that your name may not be on the list provided by the Diocese of Pueblo.

Therefore, even if you think you made a prior report of abuse, we urge you to contact us immediately to make sure that your claim is registered in a timely manner and that a claims packet is generated for you.  If you do not act before the registration deadline (once it has been set), you may lose your chance to participate in the settlement fund forever.  

Question: Will anyone find out that I filed an IRRP claim?  

The program is confidential in the sense that neither the fund administrators nor the dioceses will disclose any information publicly about those who participate in the program or their sexual abuse experiences.  The amounts paid to survivors are never made public, except as a total amount of settlements paid to the group as a whole.  

IRRP Claimants, on the other hand, are not required to maintain such confidentiality and can share their involvement with as many – or as few – people as they would like.      

Question: Should I contact the Diocese of Pueblo myself to get the IRRP process moving?  

Attorneys and advocates alike all strongly discourage survivors from contacting anyone at the Diocese of Pueblo themselves, particularly if they have not spoken with an experienced lawyer yet.  The Diocese has highly trained staff and experienced lawyers to defend itself. Even the nicest person working at the Diocese is still being paid by the Diocese and working for the benefit of the Diocese.  You should have just as much experience and tenacity working on your behalf too. 

If you elect to retain our law firm, we will handle all of the communications with the IRRP administrators, with the Diocese and its attorneys, and, to the extent it is required, with law enforcement.  You will not have to tell your story over and over again to strangers. Your contact will be almost exclusively with the attorney handling your case. This is a road that we know well and we know how to protect you and your interests.    

Question:  Is the IRRP a class action settlement fund?  

The IRCP is not a class action settlement fund – each claim will be evaluated individual and each claimant will receive an individual response from the administrators. Each claim is on its own timetable to a certain extent.  Settlement amounts in these funds vary widely, depending on various factors like the severity of the sexual abuse and its effects on the survivors. That is why having an experienced attorney is critical – we know what information is going to be important to Mr. Feinberg and his team.   

Question: If I file an IRRP claims packet, does that mean I can never sue the Diocese?  

No.  You do not waive any legal options by merely filing a claim with the IRRP.  

In some cases, you may have options beyond filing a claim – you may be able to file a lawsuit in court against the Diocese.  For the overwhelming number of claimants, the statute of limitations has long expired and, as of today, the IRCP is the only option for them to get some sense of acknowledgement and accountability by the Diocese of Pueblo.  

However, laws are being enacted in many states that change the statute of limitations for lawsuits involving child sexual abuse.  In some cases, the laws have created “windows” during which anyone who was sexually abused can file a lawsuit – even if their statute of limitations has already passed.  It is unclear if Colorado lawmakers will take similar steps. Therefore, it is very important that you have an experienced attorney guide you through the process so that you can make the best decisions for you and your family if and when you receive an offer to settle from Mr. Feinberg.  

CONTACT US TODAY.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Pueblo and throughout Colorado.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Colorado, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Pueblo now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  There may also be a major change in the statute of limitations that will open a window for survivors to file lawsuits regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.  

Call us at (888) 283-9922 or send an email to adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today.

Fr. Delbert Blong – Diocese of Pueblo

Father Delbert Blong
Diocese of Pueblo

Fr Delbert Blong Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1952
Retired: 1991
Died: 1999

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Delbert Blong:

In 1993, a teacher in Boulder, Colorado filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Pueblo and Father Delbert Blong.  The man said that Blong infected him with the AIDS virus after sexually abusing him for more than 20 years.

The 36-year-old victim, a substitute teacher in the Boulder public schools, said Blong began abusing him as a parochial school student in 1971 and continued on a regular basis until November 1992.

As a result, the victim alleged that Blong knowingly transmitted the HIV virus to him through unprotected sexual contact. The victim also alleges that two of Blong’s lovers have died of AIDS and that two others are HIV positive.

The abuse allegedly began during a counseling session in 1971 when the victim was an eighth-grade student and occurred regularly and repeatedly until approximately November of 1992.  The victim said the molestation took place on trips and in rectories in both Colorado and New Mexico.

According to media reports, Blong admitted to abusing the victim and transmitting the virus to him.

In October 2019, the Colorado Attorney General released a detailed report of a special investigation into the handling of child sexual abuse allegations by Colorado’s three Catholic dioceses.  Investigators report that they reviewed the documented allegations of six victims abused by Blong between 1950 and 1980 in LaJunta and Alamosa.  As early as his first assignment, Investigators said Blong “engaged in grooming behavior and sexual misconduct that was blatant, that continued even after the Pueblo Diocese Bishop told him to stop, and that was known to the Pueblo Diocese right after it began.”  They continued, “the Pueblo Diocese also was dishonest with the victims, the public and parishioners about its prior knowledge (dating back to the 1950s) of Blong’s sexual abuse of children.”

Blong died in Colorado in 1999.

Contact us today.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Pueblo. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Colorado, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Pueblo now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims, but filing deadlines apply so do not delay in reaching out to us. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Colorado and nationwide. We can help.

Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com.

Fr. Andrew Burke – Diocese of Pueblo

Father Andrew Burke
Diocese of Pueblo

Fr Andrew Burke Horowitz Law
Ordained: Unknown
Laicized: 1970s
Death: 2005

Assigned as follows:

  • St. Pius X Catholic Church, Pueblo, CO
  • Parkview Hospital
  • Grand Junction High School

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Andrew Burke:

In 2004, Father Andrew Burke was first accused of abusing an altar boy while he was assigned to St. Pius X in Pueblo.  Subsequent allegations were made in the years that followed by more men who say they were sexually abused by Burke as children.

According to one victim, Burke would have the altar boy change into swimming trunks or strip down to his shorts, blindfold him, tie him with strips of cloth to pipes, tickle him and drip ice on him as part of regular hour-long human “endurance experiments.”  The victim also said that Burke masturbated over him as he performed these “experiments.”

According to a copy of Burke’s December 1973 request to be released from the priesthood (laicized), he struggled with loneliness and a “psycho-sexual behavior disorder.”

Once he left the priesthood, Burke married and became a social-work director at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo.

Upon the allegations being made public, Burke admitted the story the former altar boy told to an official of the Diocese of Pueblo was mostly accurate, except for a few details.

The Diocese said it was the first allegation that had ever been made against Burke.

In 2005, Burke committed suicide by shooting himself in his backyard in Pueblo, Colorado.

After his death, other victims came forward with claims of abuse as well as suits against the Diocese of Pueblo. Two were lawsuits were settled and the Pueblo Diocese paid an undisclosed amount of money to the victims.

In October 2019, the Colorado Attorney General released a detailed report of an investigation into the handling of child sexual abuse complaints by Colorado’s three Catholic dioceses.  Investigators identified three documented complaints made to the Diocese of Pueblo about Burke.  Among the documents reviewed by the investigators were personnel documents showing that the Bishop of Pueblo knew as early as 1968 that Burke showed “evidence of a psychosexual behavior disorder.”  Documents from 1963 refer to “his problem” and “his imprudence,” which are code words often used in personnel files referencing sexual abuse allegations.

The investigators affirmatively concluded that the Pueblo Diocese “deliberately created a false impression for parishioners and the public” about its knowledge of the dangers posed by Burke throughout his ministry and as recently as 2004, when it claimed that it had no idea Burke sexually abused children before the first victim came forward.

Contact us today.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Pueblo. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Colorado, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Pueblo now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims, but filing deadlines apply so do not delay in reaching out to us. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Colorado and nationwide. We can help.

Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com.

Fr. William Groves – Diocese of Pueblo

Father William Groves
Diocese of Pueblo

Ordained: 1980
Removed from ministry: 1989

Assigned as follows:

  • St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Walsenburg, CO
  • St. Ignatius Church, Ignacio, CO
  • St. Leander, Pueblo, CO
  • St. Columba, Durango, CO

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father William Groves:

In 1990, Father William Groves – known as ‘Father Bill’ – was accused of, and ultimately pleaded guilty to, sexual assault on a child. Groves, then 37, was removed as pastor of St. Ignatius Church and given 4 years’ probation and ordered to undergo sex offender treatment.

Prior to his arrest, Groves had also been accused of sheltering “runaway Indian and Hispanic kids and giving them drugs and alcohol,” according to media reports.

In 2009, two men filed civil suits against Groves and the Diocese of Pueblo alleging abuse in the 1980s at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Walsenburg and St. Ignatius Church in Ignacio.  Both of Groves’ accusers were born in 1974. One claimed Groves subjected him to abuse for seven years, concluding in 1990 during his youth in Walsenburg.

The second man claimed that when he was 12 years old and living in Ignacio, Groves introduced him to alcohol and marijuana then committed sexual abuse on him and showed him pornography. The abuse allegedly lasted about one year.

After his removal from the church in 1990, Groves moved on to Cushing, Oklahoma, where he served as a chaplain and counselor to adults in drug and alcohol rehabilitation for 10 years. When leaders at Valley Hope Association found out about his previous conviction, he was fired in 2002.

Groves claimed he was told by Valley Hope personnel that the facility had a number of people on staff with felony convictions and that would not be a problem. However the center claimed when staff learned of Groves’ previous legal problems, they checked what he had written on his employment application and the details were inconsistent.

Groves then moved to Franklin, North Carolina, where he serves as the president and minister at the Spiritual Light Center.  According to his biography on the church’s website, “Bill Groves arrived in WNC six years ago, and soon became our Office Manager. Following eight years in the seminary and ten years of Catholic priesthood, Bill worked 20 years as a licensed counselor,” so the Church is aware of his background.

In October 2019, the Colorado Attorney General released a detailed report of a special investigation into the handling of sexual abuse allegations by Colorado’s three Colorado dioceses.  The investigation identified three documented victims of Groves between 1982 and 1989.  The documents also showed concerns about Groves having “an interest in teenagers” while working as a seminarian in a Pueblo hospital.

Contact us today.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Pueblo. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Colorado, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Pueblo now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims, but filing deadlines apply so do not delay in reaching out to us. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Colorado and nationwide. We can help.

Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com.

 

Fr. Michael Kurz – Diocese of Pueblo

Father Michael Kurz
Diocese of Pueblo

Fr. Michael Kurz Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1975

Died: 2019

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Michael Kurz:

In 2008, a man came forward with claims that Father Michael Kurz abused him when he was a boy at Christ the King Church in Pueblo. The abuse began in 1976 when the victim was in his early teens.

At the time of the allegation, Kurz was working in the Rockford Diocese as Judicial Vicar of Diocesan Tribunal. The Diocese of Rockford said the allegations were unfounded and false since Kurz was not formally assigned to the parish when the abuse was alleged to have occurred.

Despite this, the suit was eventually settled for an unknown amount.

Kurz died in January 2019.

Contact us today.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Pueblo. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Colorado, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Pueblo now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims, but filing deadlines apply so do not delay in reaching out to us. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Colorado and nationwide. We can help.

Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com.

Fr. John F. Martin – Diocese of Pueblo

Father John F. Martin
Diocese of Pueblo

Ordained: Unknown
Death: late 1970s

Assigned as follows:

  • St. Pius X, Pueblo, CO

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father John F. Martin:

A civil suit filed against the Diocese of Pueblo in 2009 alleged that Father John F. Martin and another priest, Fr. Andrew Burke, sexually assaulted the victim on multiple occasions in the early 1970s when he worked as a janitor at St. Pius X Parish.

The victim stated that Martin and Burke sexually assaulted him in the rectory basement on more than a dozen occasions over two years. Many assaults against the victim occurred before his 18th birthday, the complaint alleges.

Martin died in the late 1970s.

Contact us today.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Pueblo. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Colorado, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Pueblo now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims, but filing deadlines apply so do not delay in reaching out to us. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Colorado and nationwide. We can help.

Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com.