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YOUNGSTOWN 2 men sue priest, diocese



Published: Thu, May 30, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The priest took advantage of two boys whose father was dying, the plaintiffs' lawyer said.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Two local men say they were sexually abused by their childhood priest during a three-year span here and in several states.

The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, for whom the priest works, is being accused of covering up the acts.

Thomas Casey of Frostwood Drive and his brother, Vincent Casey of Sandburg Drive, are suing the diocese and Monsignor Robert E. Reidy.

The suit, filed late Wednesday afternoon in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, seeks unspecified damages from the diocese, Monsignor Reidy and Bishop Thomas Tobin. It is assigned to Judge James C. Evans.

Diocesan chancellor Nancy Yuhasz could not be reached to comment. She has said, though, that Reidy has admitted sexually abusing the two brothers in the 1960s.

About the lawsuit

The suit says Reidy befriended the Caseys in 1965 while their father was dying, often visiting their home with money, food and other items for the family.

For the next three years, Reidy sexually abused the boys at their Struthers home, the lawsuit says. He also took them on trips to New York, Connecticut, California and Canada, sexually abusing them during overnight stays in several states along the way, the suit says.

Atty. Michael P. Marando of Youngstown, who filed the suit, said Reidy took advantage of the boys, who were vulnerable during their father's illness. Thomas Casey Sr. died in 1968.

"When you're young like that and your father is dying, how do you push someone away?" Marando said. "Especially when it's a priest."

Reidy, 66, served as associate pastor at St. Nicholas Church in Struthers from 1965 to 1966.

He later served churches in Canton and Alliance and was a chaplain in the Navy for 26 years. Since 1999, he has been pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church of Niles.

Removed from ministry

Yuhasz said in a previous Vindicator article that Reidy was removed from the ministry after the allegations of abuse came to light, and he retired April 2.

He will no longer be able to act publicly as a priest but will be able to celebrate Mass and other sacraments privately.

Marando said both Caseys are married and have children of their own. Each had repressed memories of the abuse for years, not telling anyone about it until about a year ago.

After the diocese was informed of the abuse, it publicly admitted that it had happened, the suit says.

But before that, the diocese shielded and relocated Reidy, concealed the episodes of sexual abuse and failed to report encounters of sexual abuse by pedophile priests to proper authorities as required by law, the suit says.

That pattern of activity is a violation of Ohio's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, the suit says.

Marando said he hoped to resolve the matter without having to file a lawsuit, but "there didn't appear to be any interest on the part of the diocese."

He said the diocese did offer to provide pastoral counseling for the Caseys, but nothing else.

Neither man was anxious to take the matter into a courtroom for public display, but both felt they could no longer stand by and do nothing, Marando said.

"It got to the point that it was so bad dealing with what happened that they felt they just had to come forward," Marando said.

bjackson@vindy.com




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