A second man from Springfield, Ore., has filed a lawsuit in Nebraska alleging that the Omaha Archdiocese ignored reports that one of its priests was having improper contact with children.
The lawsuit was filed this week in U.S. District Court on behalf of Nick Johnson, who contends the Omaha diocese allowed him to be abused in the late 1970s by the Rev. Duane Lucas, now deceased.
The same allegation was made in an April lawsuit filed on behalf of Cary Claar of Springfield, a city of 55,000 in Western Oregon.
Attorneys Maren Chaloupka of Scottsbluff and Kelly Clark of Portland, Ore., are representing both men. Chaloupka said she doesn’t know whether Johnson and Claar know each other.
Clark and Claar did not immediately return phone messages left at their office and home, respectively, by The Associated Press. There was no listing for Johnson in the Springfield phone directory.
The Rev. James Taphorn, chancellor of the archdiocese, declined to comment on Johnson’s lawsuit Friday. Taphorn said he didn’t know of any connection between Johnson and Claar, whose case is pending.
Johnson’s lawsuit alleges he was sexually assaulted by Lucas from the late 1970s into the 1980s. The lawsuit said the archdiocese “ignored reports, knowledge and signs of inappropriate activities between Father Lucas and certain children, including Johnson.”
Johnson suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, Chaloupka said. The lawsuit asks for damages exceeding $75,000.
“It’s a lifetime injury,” Chaloupka said. “Generally, post-traumatic stress disorder is not curable, but it’s treatable. We’ll be asking for damages recognizing it’s a lifetime condition.”
Chaloupka said she expects the archdiocese to ask for the case to be dismissed because the four-year statute of limitations has expired.
But she said it wasn’t until recently that Johnson began to understand that problems he was having in his life were the result of the molestation he suffered in the ’70s and ’80s.
“A lot of people who acquire post-traumatic stress disorder as a youth don’t make the connection until adulthood, usually in therapy,” Chaloupka said.
In those cases, she said, victims can take legal action up to one year after they have what she called their “ah-ha moment.”
Johnson’s lawsuit said he viewed Lucas not only as a priest but as a mentor and that the archdiocese retained Lucas even though it knew of his ‘”propensities.”
Johnson told no one about the assault for many years, the lawsuit said, and he “suffers from severe and debilitating emotional injury, pain and suffering, emotional trauma and permanent psychological damage.”
Johnson requires counseling and psychological treatment, the lawsuit said.
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