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Published: Wednesday, 10/29/2003

Ex-deacon, diocese sued over alleged sex abuse

Attorney Jeff Anderson, Barbara Blaine, and Claudia Vercellotti, from left, discuss the lawsuit filed yesterday during a news conference in front of the Catholic diocese's offices. Attorney Jeff Anderson, Barbara Blaine, and Claudia Vercellotti, from left, discuss the lawsuit filed yesterday during a news conference in front of the Catholic diocese's offices.
HIRES / BLADE Enlarge

Two men filed a lawsuit yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court claiming that a former deacon with the Toledo Catholic Diocese abused them sexually in the 1970s.

David J. Barciz, of Raleigh, N.C., and a man referred to as “John Doe” filed the complaint against Dr. Glen Shrimplin, who was a deacon in the diocese from 1974 until 1987.

The lawsuit also named the Toledo diocese and Immaculate Conception Church, 434 Western Ave., and Blessed Sacrament Church, 4227 Bellevue Rd., parishes where Dr. Shrimplin served as a “deacon, spiritual counselor, and youth religious counselor.”

The men, who are now 44, allege that Dr. Shrimplin began abusing them sexually in 1974 when they were both about 16.

Mr. Barciz claimed he was molested in Dr. Shrimplin's car while returning home from a youth retreat and at Dr. Shrimplin's home.

The other plaintiff, who grew up in South Toledo and now lives in Fulton County, alleges that the abuse occurred on several occasions at various locations, including Immaculate Conception Church.

Dr. Shrimplin, 69, a retired dentist, now lives in Bonita Springs, Fla. He has denied the allegations.

The suit, which was assigned to Judge Robert Christiansen, said church leaders failed to supervise Dr. Shrimplin and conspired to conceal the alleged abuse.

The men are asking for more than $25,000 in compensatory damages and an unspecified amount in punitive damages.

The lawsuit was the 15th filing against the Toledo diocese alleging sex abuse since the national scandal broke in Boston in January, 2001, and the first since the announcement that Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Leonard Paul Blair will become the next bishop of the diocese. Bishop Blair will be installed Dec. 4.

At a news conference outside the downtown Catholic Center, Jeffery Anderson, a St. Paul attorney who represents the two men, called on the church and the new bishop to “do the right thing” and “right the wrongs of the past.”

Jon Schoonmaker, co-coordinator of the local chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, read a statement on behalf of the unidentified plaintiff. “Had the Diocese of Toledo done their jobs of informing the public, I would not have been forced to bring this suit against them,” Mr. Schoonmaker said.

Sally Oberski, director of communications for the diocese, said she had not read the lawsuit. She said the diocese's standard practice is to give allegations of sexual abuse to the county prosecutor and notify the bishop of the area where the accused person lives.

“We extend an apology in the name of the church and extend an offer of pastoral outreach and care,” Ms. Oberski said.



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