1. Archive

Cardinal dropped from sex-abuse lawsuit

Published Oct. 6, 2005

A man who accused Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of sexually abusing him in the 1970s dropped his lawsuit against the Roman Catholic prelate, saying his memory was unreliable.

Steven Cook, 34, filed a $10-million lawsuit Nov. 12 claiming Bernardin and the Rev. Ellis Harsham of Beavercreek abused him from 1975 to 1977 when he was a high school student attending a seminary program in Cincinnati. Bernardin, now cardinal of Chicago's 2.3-million-member archdiocese, was Cincinnati's archbishop at the time.

"I harbor no ill feelings toward Steven Cook," Bernardin said. "I have compassion for him. I have prayed for him every day, and I will continue to do so."

Cook also accused the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and archdiocesan officials of negligence for allowing the alleged abuse. The case is to go to trial May 9.

Cook's lawsuit said he waited more than 15 years to make the allegations because he had repressed memories of the abuse. But Monday, he asked U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel to drop Bernardin as a defendant, saying he was no longer sure if memories recalled during hypnosis "are true and accurate."

Asked if suing Bernardin was a mistake, Cook's lawyer Stephen Rubino said: "Looking in hindsight, yes."

Cook said he became addicted to alcohol, drugs and sex after leaving the seminary and now is dying of AIDS.

Priest admits sex abuse: A suspended Catholic priest pleaded guilty Monday to sexually assaulting an altar boy from 1981 to 1986 and was sentenced to three to six years in prison.

The Rev. Leo Shea, 67, can ask to have his sentence suspended in 12 to 18 months if he completes a sexual offender's program. Shea is on administrative leave from the Manchester Diocese in New Hampshire.

Shea also faces charges in Massachusetts of sexually assaulting eight boys in the 1970s and 1980s.