Kentucky grand jury indicts retired priest on sex abuse charges

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Associated Press WriterLOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- A retired Roman Catholic priest was indicted Wednesday on 42 counts of sexual misconduct after dozens of victims came forward saying they were abused as children.

The Rev. Louis Miller, 71, faces six counts of sexual abuse and 36 counts of indecent and immoral practices.

Miller has been accused in more than 50 of the 133 lawsuits filed against the Louisville Archdiocese, with plaintiffs saying the church knew about his misconduct and failed to take disciplinary action.

Miller has denied the accusations.

The priest worked at seven different parishes since 1956 before retiring in March after the allegations became public. Archdiocese officials say he has been banned from public ministry and stripped of his collar, and that he has been living in a retirement home for priests in Louisville.

More lawsuits have been filed against Roman Catholic dioceses in Kentucky than in any other state. Most involve the Louisville Archdiocese, which includes 220,000 parishioners in 24 counties -- and many allege abuse by Miller over more than four decades.

Three of suits also allege sexual abuse by the former Lexington Bishop J. Kendrick Williams when he was a priest in Louisville. Williams, 65, has denied the allegations, but he resigned this month, becoming the third U.S. bishop brought down by the sex scandal engulfing the church.

The criminal indictment against Miller is the latest filed against U.S. priests this year.

A central figure in the scandal, the Rev. Paul Shanley, was charged last week in Massachusetts with abusing four boys during the 1980s. Criminal charges against clergy also have been filed in at least eight other states and other cases are pending.

Miller is the first priest to have criminal charges brought against him in Louisville since the allegations became public in April. Officials with the archdiocese and Miller settled two lawsuits accusing him of abuse in 1990 and 2000.

In developments Tuesday:

--A Catholic priest in New York City was arrested for sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy, prosecutors said. Details of the case were being withheld pending the 41-year-old priest's arraignment.

--Officials in the Milwaukee Archdiocese said they plan to publish the names of priests accused of sexual abuse. Church officials said the policy would apply to abuse allegations they could document. It wasn't immediately clear where the information would be published.

--A Catholic priest accused of fondling and photographing teen-age boys in his Nevada parish waived his right to a preliminary hearing, prompting a judge to move the case to state court for trial.

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