MINNEAPOLIS — The lawyer for a man who alleges he was sexually abused decades ago by a now-deceased priest at a Wisconsin school for the deaf says the Vatican has refused to be served with a lawsuit over the matter.
Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul lawyer who frequently clashes with the Catholic hierarchy over abuse allegations, said yesterday that representatives of his office served the lawsuit late last week at the Vatican’s office of the assessor for general affairs, but that it was returned via Federal Express.
Anderson’s client is Terry Kohut, a 61-year-old deaf man from Chicago who alleges the late Rev. Lawrence Murphy molested him for several years starting around 1960 while Murphy worked at a Milwaukee-area school for the deaf.
The lawsuit names as defendants the Holy See itself as well as Pope Benedict XVI and two other top cardinals, contending they conspired to keep quiet decades of abuse allegations against Murphy.
Anderson said the Vatican’s decision to reject the suit amounted to “thumbing their nose at the judicial process and rubbing salt in the wounds of abuse survivors.’’
Jeffrey Lena, the US-based attorney for the Vatican, said in an e-mail that the lawsuit should have been served through diplomatic channels as would be done with any foreign state. He called Anderson’s news conference grandstanding.
In October, a US federal judge asked the Vatican to cooperate in the serving of court papers to the Holy See, the pope, and two other Vatican officials, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
The Vatican is not obliged to comply with such requests. But Anderson said doing so would have signaled the Vatican is willing to cooperate in moving the case along.
Murphy, who died in 1998, has been alleged to have sexually abuse some 200 boys at the deaf school from 1950 to 1974.