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YOUNGSTOWN Lawsuit looms in priest abuses



Published: Thu, September 19, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The lawsuit will be the second filed against the diocese over sexual abuse by priests.

By D.A. WILKINSON

VINDICATOR RELIGION EDITOR

YOUNGSTOWN -- A lawyer and a survivors group for those abused by priests say a lawsuit will be brought against the Catholic Dioceses of Youngstown and Saginaw, Mich., and a priest who served in both jurisdictions.

Atty. Jeff Anderson said today that besides the two dioceses, the lawsuit will also be filed against the Rev. John Hammer.

Father Hammer was accused of abusing children when he was a priest in the Youngstown diocese.

He underwent treatment and later transferred to the Michigan Diocese.

The allegations against Father Hammer became public earlier this year. The plaintiffsAnderson said the plaintiffs include three men now in the their 30s who have accused Father Hammer of abuse when he was a priest at St. Louis Church in Louisville (Stark County) in the Youngstown diocese.

Another plaintiff is a Michigan boy who is 12 and alleges that at age 11 he was a target of attempted abuse by the priest, said Anderson.

The Ohio victims were about the same age when they were abused, said the lawyer.

The abuses took place from about 1979 through 2001.

Anderson has handled more than 500 lawsuits on abuse by clergy in the past 20 years.

Two local brothers have also filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese that says they were molested repeatedly by a Youngstown priest.

The Youngstown diocese has said that it has in its history a total of 16 abuse allegations against priests and one against a nun.

Speaker planned

Barbara Blaine, the founder of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is to speak when the lawsuit is filed. The group has 4,300 members.

Some members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops met with abuse victims in June when the conference met in Dallas.

The conference then created a "one-strike" policy on abuse, with exceptions for older priests. But some experts think the policy of removing priests may conflict with existing church law.

wilkinson@vindy.com




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