20 Nov 2010

North Dakota sex abuse lawsuit is the tenth one against Christian Brother school teacher who has never been charged with a crime

Grand Forks Herald - North Dakota January 26, 2010

Ex-Shanley teacher faces new abuse lawsuit

A third lawsuit in North Dakota accusing a former teacher at Fargo’s Shanley High School of sexually abusing a student in the 1970s was filed in state district court in Fargo on Tuesday.

By Dave Roepke

FARGO - A third North Dakota lawsuit accusing a former teacher at Fargo’s Shanley High School of sexually abusing a student at the Catholic school was filed in state district court here on Tuesday.

The lawsuit claims that Brother Raimond Rose, on a school-sponsored overnight trip to Bismarck in 1978 or 1979, groped Paul Mehl while he was sleeping. Mehl, 48, of Fargo, was 16 or 17 at the time, according to the civil complaint.

Rose, who was a Shanley religion teacher from 1976 to 1980, is listed as a defendant along with Shanley, the Catholic Diocese of Fargo, Bishop Samuel Aquila and the religious order to which Rose belonged, The Christian Brothers of the Midwest.

It marks the 10th lawsuit in North Dakota or Minnesota alleging sexual abuse by Rose, though the 84-year-old hasn’t been charged with a crime.

Mehl’s attorneys say the school, the diocese and the Christian Brothers should have known Rose was a threat because a student at a Minneapolis Catholic school in 1966 reported being sexually abused by him.

Kristi Hastings, a Fergus Falls, Minn., attorney who is representing Mehl, said the allegations in Mehl’s lawsuit are much like the ones leveled in previous lawsuits against Rose – a claim that he sexually abused a sleeping boy while on an out-of-town field trip.

“The facts are very similar to the others,” she said.

Tanya Watterud, diocesan spokeswoman, said a statement on the matter might be released Tuesday but none was by 6 p.m.

In court responses to the first two lawsuits filed in Cass County, lawyers for the diocese, Shanley and Aquila asked for the suits to be dismissed on grounds that the court doesn’t have proper jurisdiction to hear the lawsuits and that the plaintiffs didn’t properly establish claims for relief.

North Dakota law requires childhood sex abuse lawsuits to be filed by the time the victim is 19 years old, unless the plaintiff is unaware of the possibility that a claim exists. If they don’t discover the potential for a claim until later, they have two years to file suit.

Hastings said Mehl didn’t know a claim existed until he heard news reports in December about the Christian Brothers getting complaints in 1966 about Rose.

Lawyers for the Christian Brothers have denied in court records that the order knew of those allegations in 1966.

Bob Schwiderski, director of the North Dakota and Minnesota chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said he thinks the religious order was aware of the abuse claims and he criticized the Christian Brothers and the Fargo diocese for not speaking up about the incidents.

“They knew, they knew,” he said in a news conference at the Cass County Courthouse on Tuesday.

Schwiderski said he has spoken with about 30 purported victims of Rose in North Dakota, and he expects more lawsuits to be filed soon the near future.

Hearings on motions to dismiss in the two North Dakota lawsuits already filed against Rose are set for Feb. 17 and March 3.

Schwiderski has said in the past that Rose lives in Chicago.

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