The three year statute of limitations for wrongful death in Missouri was suspended in this case due to the "fraudulent concealment" of the diocese when it supposedly covered up the abuse. That line pretty much says it all. The saga continues for O'Brien who has been the subject of numerous abuse cases. In this case it appears that a young man was killed via gunshot wound at the age of 14, and the parents are suing claiming that abuse of the priest caused the death. Hopefully they get everything they are due.
Here is the article in the Kansas City Star.
Wrongful-Death Lawsuit in priest abuse can proceed, judge rules
By: Judy Thomas
A wrongful-death lawsuit alleging that a boy took his life decades
ago because of repeated sexual abuse by a Kansas City priest can
proceed, a judge ruled this week. The statute of limitations for wrongful death is three years in Missouri. But
in his order, Jackson County Circuit Judge Michael Manners held as
valid the argument of the boys’ parents that the statute of limitations
should be suspended because of the defendants’ cover-up, fraud and
concealment of the priest’s alleged abuse of their son and other
children. The judge dismissed the parents’ other claims that the
priest and the diocese deprived their son of “a material chance of
surviving.” Don and Rosemary Teeman filed the case against
Monsignor Thomas O’Brien and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph last
September after someone who served as an altar boy with their son,
Brian, told them of the alleged abuse.
Brian Teeman, 14, died of a gunshot wound in November 1983 at the family’s home in Independence. The diocese and O’Brien filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that too much time had passed. “I feel this win on the motion to dismiss is a big, big plus for our
case to get justice for our son, Brian, and for all the victims who are
also trying to get justice,” Don Teeman told The Kansas City Star. “God
has started to answer our prayers.” The lawsuit, which seeks
unspecified damages, is thought to be the first wrongful-death case in Missouri involving priest sexual abuse in which the statute of
limitations could be suspended based on “fraudulent concealment,” said
Rebecca Randles, the Teemans’ attorney.
“This is a victory for us in a big way,” Randles said. “This means the case can move forward.” The
diocese issued this statement in response to the order: “This
procedural ruling did not make any finding as to the factual allegations
made by the plaintiffs, and the diocese will continue to defend the
case.” The lawsuit says the diocese shares responsibility for
Brian Teeman’s death because officials knew that O’Brien was sexually
abusing boys but covered it up. O’Brien, who has been the subject
of more than two dozen sexual abuse lawsuits since 2004, has repeatedly
denied that he abused any boys. His attorney, Gerald McGonagle, was out
of town Friday and could not be reached for comment. The diocese
has said that it received a complaint in September 1983 accusing
O’Brien of sexual misconduct with a teenage boy and that O’Brien denied
any wrongdoing. O’Brien was removed from his assignment as pastor of
Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in October 1983 and sent for
psychological evaluation and treatment, the diocese said.
completing treatment, O’Brien returned to the diocese in June 1984 and
was allowed to serve only as a part-time hospital chaplain, the diocese
said. He continued in that position until 2002. Later that year, the
bishop at that time, Raymond J. Boland, told O’Brien that he could no
longer present himself as a priest.
When they filed the lawsuit,
the Teemans said they didn’t know about the sexual abuse or the reason
for Brian’s suicide until Jon David Couzens, the former altar boy,
contacted them in 2011. The lawsuit alleges that O’Brien forced
Brian Teeman and three other boys to perform sexual acts in the sacristy
at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Independence. The
abuse began when Brian was 11 and continued until he graduated from
eighth grade, the lawsuit alleges. It says O’Brien warned the boys that
if they ever told, they would be kicked out of the church, be disowned
by their parents and go to hell. Couzens also filed a lawsuit last summer alleging sexual abuse by O’Brien. A ruling on motions to dismiss his case is pending.
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