Brothers Sue D.C. Archdiocese, Charging Abuse by Priest

Thursday, June 11, 2009

LEGAL ISSUES

Suit Against Archdiocese Alleges Sex Abuse

Two brothers who allege they were victims of sex abuse by a priest in the 1950s and early 1960s filed a lawsuit yesterday against the Archdiocese of Washington and the churches where they say some of the abuse occurred.

Donald F. Burns, 62, and Stephen F. Burns, 63, say in their lawsuit that the archdiocese at the time knew or should have known that Monsignor R. Joseph Dooley would molest them because the church knew of other incidents involving boys abused by Dooley.

The lawsuit, filed in Delaware Superior Court, alleges that much of the abuse occurred in the Burns home and in Dooley's trailer in Rehoboth Beach, Del., where he took them. Donald Burns said he was abused from the age of 12 to 14, and Stephen Burns said he was sexually assaulted from age 9 to 17.

Dooley, the lawsuit says, served as a priest at Our Lady of Lourdes in Bethesda and Church of the Annunciation in Northwest Washington. He has since died.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Gibbs said the archdiocese had no knowledge of the lawsuit or the allegations and could not comment.

-- Jacqueline L. Salmon

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