Reno Priest Included in Church Settlement

By  | 

A settlement with the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., over allegations of sexual abuse by priests includes lawsuits filed by women against a Reno priest.

The archdiocese on Tuesday announcement the settlement which will pay $25.7 million to 243 people who accused priests of sexual abuse.

Eleven of those suits of involved allegations against retired Monsignor Robert Bowling of Saint Therese the Little Flower Church in Reno.

Most of the claims allege that abuse occurred while Bowling was working in Kentucky from 1955 to 1965, though one woman alleged he molested her in Reno while she was pregnant and in the hospital.

The lawsuits were filed against the archdiocese, and not Bowling personally, and charge that the archdiocese should have stopped Bowling's activities.

Bowling, who has denied misconduct, took a leave of absence when the first claims were made a year ago and has since retired.

The settlement is one of the largest payments by the Roman Catholic Church over clergy sexual abuse allegations in the country.

Bowling's lawyer, John Arrascada, said he spoke with the 75-year-old priest Wednesday about the settlement. He described Bowling as "extremely ill" with "several different ailments," the Reno Gazette-Journal reported Thursday.

"Monsignor is pleased for the archdiocese that they were able to settle all the claims, including the 11 which contained allegations against him, and that the church now can continue on its spiritual mission," Arrascada told the newspaper.

"He respects the settlement reached it gives closure to the claimants," he said. "He hopes to live the rest of his days, however many they may be, in peace."

William McMurry, the lead lawyer handling the lawsuits for all the plaintiffs, said the settlement vindicates those who have called for justice against abusive priests.

Bowling was a priest and administrator at Saint Rita Church and school and at the Holy Cross Church and school, both in Kentucky, from 1955 to 1965. He moved to Reno in 1969 and became pastor of Saint Therese in 1974.

Almost half the women claim Bowling sexually abused them 40 years ago while they were students at Holy Cross grade school.

The most recent lawsuit filed in January by a woman who claimed Bowling molested her at a Reno hospital in 1983 when she was six months pregnant.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)