Man Sues Former Priest, Ex-Bishop In Abuse Case

October 4, 2010

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Diocese of St. Catharines in Ontario also named; assaults began in 1978 when plaintiff was a teen

A 46-year-old man is suing a former Catholic priest who pleaded guilty earlier this year to sexually abusing him and two other boys. Also named in the suit are the Diocese of St. Catharines, which he says did nothing to help him when he complained of the abuse, and former bishop James Wingle, who resigned shortly after the ex-priest, Donald Grecco, pleaded guilty.

The suit claims a total of $3-million in damages. The diocese did not respond to requests for comment Monday evening; Mr. Grecco could not be reached for comment.

"The burning question is what the diocese knew and when," said Robert Talach, a lawyer for the man, Mike Blum.

When the abuse began in 1978, Mr. Blum was a teenage altar boy who helped out with odd painting jobs at his parish church in Cayuga, Mr. Talach said Monday. He said it lasted roughly a year and a half.

In 2005, he told the diocese about the abuse, shortly after Mr. Grecco had left the priesthood. He claims nothing came of his complaint, so he went to the police in 2008. The resulting investigation led to criminal proceedings and Mr. Grecco's guilty plea in March. The ex-priest is awaiting sentencing.

Mr. Blum is currently on disability, unable to work as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder, Mr. Talach said.

In April, the bishop abruptly resigned, citing only a lack of "stamina" in a letter to parishioners.

"I believe that my resignation will serve not only my own spiritual and personal well-being, but the good of the diocese and the Church as well," he wrote. "If my shortcomings and limitations have caused any disappointment, I ask for God's mercy and your understanding."

It is not clear why the bishop resigned or exactly what post he took up afterward. His only official statement since his departure from the diocese, a letter released in July, said he had been in the Holy Land on sabbatical and that he was writing and researching a project.

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