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NLR woman sues diocese, says ‘predatory’ priest seduced her

By John Lynch

This article was published April 14, 2011 at 3:42 a.m.

Lawsuit alleges sexual abuse by Ark. priest

A lawsuit filed Wednesday in Pulaski County Circuit Court alleges a woman was sexually exploited by ...

— A North Little Rock woman filed a negligence lawsuit Wednesday in Pulaski County Circuit Court against the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock and its bishop, claiming they failed to protect her from a “predatory” priest who seduced her into a sexual relationship under the pretense of counseling her.

In January, Catholic authorities removed the Rev. Charles Kanu from his post in the unincorporated Pulaski County community of Marche. Bishop Anthony B. Taylor told worshippers that “credible allegations of professional misconduct” had been raised against the Nigerian native, who had served in Arkansas churches in Helena-West Helena, Marianna, Mountain Home, Tontitown and Huntsville since 2005.

After receiving a complaint, the church immediately began an investigation of what Taylor described as “noncriminal” behavior, with Kanu admitting he had breached “conditions” placed on his continuing ministry in Arkansas. That led the bishop to suspend him and remove him from the parish. In a news release Wednesday, Dennis Lee, a spokesman for the diocese, said the church won’t comment on the woman’s allegations, beyond what Taylor revealed in January, in light of her legal action.

The church’s response to her accusations has not been enough, the woman told reporters Wednesday at a news conference organized by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, an activist group also known as SNAP. She said Taylor ignored Kanu’s misbehavior not only with her but also with other women while simultaneously ignoring sexual misconduct of other priests in the statewide diocese.

The lawsuit describes a relationship that began in May 2008, turned sexual in spring 2009 and ended in October, sparking depression in her and her children and contributing to a suicide attempt by her 13-year-old son. She said she hoped news of her lawsuit would encourage other women to come forward.

The woman, who is in her early 40s, filed suit anonymously, claiming public disclosure would subject her to public humiliation and threats. A decision on whether she can proceed without publicly disclosing her name will be up to the presiding judge, Wendell Griffen, who is also a Baptist minister. She is seeking compensatory damages.

Jessica Arbour of Florida, one of the woman’s attorneys, said Kanu’s relationship with the woman was also criminal, constituting third-degree sexual assault as described in Arkansas Code 5-14-126. That law says a clergy member who uses his position of authority and trust over his victim to have a sexual relationship commits a Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Arbour said the woman has filed a criminal complaint in Mountain Home, where she first met Kanu as a convert to Catholicism. Ron Kincade, prosecuting attorney for Baxter County, said Wednesday that no charges have been filed against Kanu, but he would not say whether Kanu was under investigation.

“They [church officials] didn’t protect her and they didn’t protect other vulnerable women,” Arbour said. “Instead, they gave him [Kanu] a collar which he used as a weapon.”

Arkansas, Pages 10 on 04/14/2011

Print Headline: NLR woman sues diocese, says ‘predatory’ priest seduced her

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Comments on: NLR woman sues diocese, says ‘predatory’ priest seduced her

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Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 total comments

Lir says... April 14, 2011 at 8:30 a.m.

There were 3 comments on this story yesterday. Where did they go?

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Ran2133 says... April 14, 2011 at 8:56 a.m.

This "priest" sure moved around a lot! I'll bet this was not the first complaint the "church" received about this guy. Several years ago the "church" would send their priests to New Mexico when sexual abuse complaints were made. There they could continue their abuse of parishoners.

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Lir says... April 14, 2011 at 10:14 a.m.

Apparently there must be 2 comment threads running on this story. There were 6 comments made yesterday, none of which appear today.

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Lir says... April 14, 2011 at 10:40 a.m.

@jaymac from yesterday's post (and apparently deleted comment thread)in reference to your accusing Judy Jones, director of Midwest SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)of seeking "green" or I assume only money in this complaint. SNAP is a support group for those who have been victimized as well as helping victims seek justice. Please do not demean Ms. Green or victims of sexual abuse.

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LR1955 says... April 14, 2011 at 11:34 a.m.

The first posting of an article usually had the DemGaz Staff as the reporter, then often it reposts with an actual reporter's name as the writer the next day. The second posting usually has added info but unfortunately the comments start over. If you were to drag the first time posting to your desk top (saving it), you can pull it up later, read it and add more comments but you won't be able to go back and find it on the DemGaz site, even searching with the actual title.
Also if someone suggest removal, it's not removing a comment, it is suggesting removing the article. That will also start the whole thing over again. Their webmasters are either not that skilled or they are too lazy to write decent code....you should try using their %#$@+~& jobs online section :-(

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