Ky. lawsuit calls Pope liable for priest sex abuse


Posted on March 30, 2010 at 11:48 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 31 at 2:06 AM

A Louisville attorney is trying to do something that's never been done before; force the Pope to answer questions in a lawsuit. 

The Vatican is fighting back.

This case was filed right here in Louisville with three men who claim they were abused by priests in Kentucky and that the Pope and Vatican officials didn't do anything about it.

In this Holy week, the Pope has been surrounded by a scandal in Europe of priests abusing boys.

At the same time, he and the Vatican are facing a federal lawsuit filed in here in Louisville.

For the first time ever, a U.S. Court will decide whether the Pope can be held liable for negligence in a nationwide priest abuse scandal. 

Jeff Koenig, President of SNAP of Louisville, said, "It means that finally we're getting some kind of justice in the federal court system."

Jeff Koenig is the President of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and says everyone in the organization is anxiously waiting to see what the Court decides.

"We view this as a good thing.  We feel like that the Pope needs to be held accountable for what's gone on in the United States and other countries."

The case was originally filed in 2004 by three men in Kentucky, represented by William McMurray, the attorney who previously represented more than 200 victims of priest sex abuse.

That case was settled with the Archdiocese of Louisville in 2003 for $25.3 million.

In the current case, the Vatican, in court papers, is trying the get the case dismissed arguing that the Pope cannot be held liable because he's a head of state and that American Bishops involved in the US are not direct employees of the Vatican. 

Some Bishops have spoken out defending the Pope. 

Timothy Dolan, New York Archbishop, said, "Certain sources seem almost frenzied to implicate the man who perhaps more than anybody else has been the leader in purification, reform and renewal."

The judge hearing this case now has several motions and arguments from both sides.

Right now there is no timeline for when the judge might make any rulings in the case