Colorado Clergy Abuse Lawsuits
In the last decade, reports of clergy abuse have been documented in every state in the country. Prosecutors have launched investigations into the systemic sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Lawmakers in several states broadened the legal rights of victims through legislation. And, survivors of abuse are taking legal action against their abusers and the organizations that hid the abuse.
The Colorado priest abuse report was the first step for the state to address decades of abuse. However, due to current state laws, the majority of victims abused by a clergy member in Colorado are unable to file a civil lawsuit. These cases date back decades and are thus time-barred from the civil legal process. However, recent legislation has expanded the timeframe for victims to file criminal cases.
Victim advocates are fighting for additional legislative changes to expand these legal deadlines. Several states have done so in the last few years. Such changes would grant more time for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to process their trauma and seek justice in court.
In recent years, Colorado lawmakers have passed two bills that benefit victims of sexual assault.
2016 | HB-1260
HB 16-1260 extends the legal deadline to press criminal charges of sexual assault from 10 years to 20 years.
2019 | HB-1030
HB 19-1030 “creates the crime of unlawful electronic sexual communication,” with minors.
The Need for Amended Child Sexual Abuse Laws in Colorado
Although these two bills expand a victim’s rights, many advocates believe these laws don’t do enough. Survivors of child sexual abuse still have limited options when it comes to pursuing civil claims in Colorado.
Currently, survivors have just six years after they reach 18 years of age to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser. For many survivors of child sexual abuse, it can take decades to process the trauma and find the courage to face their abuser in a courtroom. The current laws don’t take this into account.
On February 12, 2020, Colorado state lawmakers proposed House Bill 1296 (HB 1296) to address the deficiencies in the current laws. Among other important provisions, HB 1296 would have eliminated the statute of limitations for survivors of sexual assault to file civil lawsuits against their abuser.
A statute of limitations (SOL) is a legal deadline. SOLs are determined at the state level and vary based on the crime.
However, unlike similar legislation passed in other states, HB 1296 would not have applied retroactively to expired cases. Some lawmakers believe a retroactive provision would violate Colorado’s state constitution.
The lack of retroactive measures was widely debated and criticized by many victim advocates. In June 2020, one of the lead sponsors of the bill, state Senator Julie Gonzales, asked for the bill to be rejected. Gonzales hopes to propose a future bill that will retroactively help survivors of sexual assault with expired cases.
The Future Of Colorado Sexual Assault Legislation
Colorado lawmakers agree the current statute of limitations prevents many sexual assault victims from filing civil claims. However, there is a divide among state lawmakers in how best to accomplish a revision.
As more states prioritize similar legislation, Colorado lawmakers are expected to debate the issue again in next year’s legislative session.
When taking any legal action against an abuser, a victim must follow the statute of limitations related to the crime.
The legal deadline a survivor must follow will differ depending on whether the survivor is pressing criminal charges or filing a civil lawsuit.
There are two types of criminal charges a victim may bring against an abuser. Depending on the severity of the crime, sexual assault may be considered a felony or a misdemeanor. In Colorado, there is a different legal deadline for felony charges versus misdemeanor charges.
Felony – In Colorado, felony charges of sexual assault must be filed within 20 years of the crime. If a victim was younger than 18 and older than 14 at the time of the abuse, the victim has 20 years to press charges after he or she turns 18 years of age.
In Colorado, there is no time limit to file felony charges of sexual offenses committed against a child (under the age of 15).
Misdemeanor – In Colorado, misdemeanor charges of sexual assault must be filed against an abuser within five years of the crime.
Learn more about the criminal statutes of limitations in Colorado here.
According to current Colorado law, a survivor of child sexual assault has six years, after turning 18, to file a civil claim against his or her abuser. Once a survivor reaches 24 years of age, he or she will no longer be able to file a civil claim of child sexual abuse in the state of Colorado.
What Is the Difference Between a Criminal Case and Civil Lawsuit?
If the abuser (defendant) is found guilty in a criminal case, he or she may face probation or time in prison. The victim (plaintiff) would only receive money if the court requires the defendant to pay restitution to the plaintiff.
If the abuser (defendant) is found liable in a civil case, he or she must pay a monetary award to the victim (plaintiff). The amount of the award is determined by the jury. The award covers any damages caused by the abuse.
Clergy Abuse Settlements in Colorado
There are more than 40 priests accused of abuse in Colorado. According to the investigation’s resulting report, 166 children were the victims of sexual abuse by these priests. This high number of victims has led to a large number of lawsuits. To avoid lengthy and costly trials, the Catholic Dioceses of Colorado has settled many of these priest abuse cases.
By July 2008, the Denver Archdiocese settled 43 claims against just three abusive priests. The archdiocese paid more than $8.2 million to settle all the claims.
As of January 31, 2020 the IRRP is no longer accepting new claims.
In 2019, the Colorado Dioceses and the state attorney general’s office created the Colorado Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program (IRRP).
The program established a fund to pay compensation to priest abuse victims. If a survivor of abuse chooses to accept the money offered through the IRRP, he or she forgoes any future rights to sue the dioceses.
Dioceses in Colorado Associated with the IRRP
The IRRP covers all claims against Colorado priests accused of abuse within the following dioceses:
- Archdiocese of Denver
- Diocese of Colorado
- Diocese of Pueblo
In October 2020, the program announced preliminary results of applications submitted and compensation paid out. In total, 98 people filed claims through the IRRP. 81 of these claimants were deemed eligible for compensation.
The Colorado Dioceses have paid $6.68 million dollars in compensation to 73 of the claimants. The program administrators are currently working to finalize compensation for the eight remaining claimants.
The IRRP is closed and no longer accepting new claims.
List of Priests Accused of Abuse in Colorado
This is a list of Catholic priests accused of abuse in Colorado. This list does not include clergy members of other religious orders or denominations. This list does not include staff members, volunteers or congregation members accused of abuse in the Colorado Dioceses.
If you believe any of the Roman Catholic priests accused of abuse in Colorado were active abusers in other states, search for their name using our nationwide, searchable database of accused priests.
If you do not see the name you are looking for within our list of priests accused of abuse in Colorado, this does not limit your legal options. This list may expand as additional abusive priests in Colorado are identified.
If you or someone you know is a survivor of priest abuse in Colorado, you have legal rights. Learn more about your legal options by consulting one of our experienced lawyers today.
There Are 20 Accused Clergy Members From The Archdiocese Of Denver, CO:
- Abercrombie, Leonard A.
- Barry, Thomas Patrick
- Bemunuge, Prosper
- Carignan, Wilfred Laurent
- Clark, Mark A.
- Colucci, Bennett
- De Lazzer, Dorino
- Evans (in Colo), Timothy Joseph
- Gourley, Marshall
- Hewitt, Neil
- Kurtz, Richard James
- Matson, Mark N.
- McInerney, Maurice
- Murphy, Edward P.
- Nadal, J. Bart
- O'Liddy, Patrick Henry
- St. Peter, Lawrence H.
- Stein, John Francis
- Thompson, Melvin F.
- White, Harold Robert
Colorado Priest Abuse Victim Resources
There are many programs and organizations that support sexual abuse survivors in Colorado. These groups provide useful resources for victims and their families. This list of sexual violence support programs in Colorado is organized by county.
Colorado Sexual Violence Programs by County
|County||Facility Name||Phone Number(s)|
|Adams||The Blue Bench||Hotline: 303-322-7273
|Adams||Family Tree||Hotline: 303-420-6752|
|Alamosa||Tu Casa, Inc.||Hotline: 719-589-2465|
|Arapahoe||The Blue Bench||Hotline: 303-322-7273
|Arapahoe||Family Tree||Hotline: 303-420-6752|
|Archuleta||Sexual Assault Services Organization (SASO)||Hotline: 970-247-5400
|Archuleta||Rise Above Violence||Hotline: 970-264-9075
|Baca||Domestic Safety Resource Center||Hotline: 719-336-4357|
|Bent||Arkansas Valley Resource Center||Hotline: 719-384-7764|
|Boulder||Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA)||Hotline: 303-443-7300
|Boulder||Family Tree||Hotline: 303-420-6752|
|Broomfield||The Blue Bench||Hotline: 303-322-7273
|Broomfield||Family Tree||Hotline: 303-420-6752|
|Chaffee||The Alliance||Hotline: 719-539-7347|
|Cheyenne||Domestic Safety Resource Center||Hotline: 719-336-4357|
|Clear Creek||Clear Creek County Advocates||Hotline: 303-569-3126
|Clear Creek||PeaceWorks, Inc.||Hotline: 303-838-8181
|Conejos||Tu Casa, Inc.||Hotline: 719-589-2465|
|Costilla||Tu Casa, Inc.||Hotline: 719-589-2465|
|Crowley||Arkansas Valley Resource Center||Hotline: 719-384-7764|
|Custer||Family Crisis Services, Inc.||Hotline: 719-275-2429|
|Delta||Latimer House |
|Denver||The Blue Bench||Hotline: 303-322-7273
|Denver||Family Tree||Hotline: 303-420-6752|
|Dolores||Renew, Inc.||Hotline: 970-565-2100
|Douglas||The Blue Bench||Hotline: 303-322-7273
|Douglas||Family Tree||Hotline: 303-420-6752|
|Eagle||Response||Hotline: 970-925-SAFE (7233)
|Eagle||Bright Future Foundation||Hotline: 970-949-7086
|El Paso||Haseya Advocate Program||Office: 719-600-3939|
|El Paso||TESSA||Hotline: 719-633-3819
|Elbert||The Blue Bench||Hotline: 303-322-7273
|Fremont||The Alliance||Hotline: 719-539-7347|
|Fremont||Family Crisis Services, Inc.||Hotline: 719-275-2429|
|Garfield||Advocate Safehouse Project||Hotline: 970-945-4439
|Gilpin||The Blue Bench||Hotline: 303-322-7273
|Gilpin||Family Tree||Hotline: 303-420-6752|
|Grand||Advocates for A Violence-Free Community||Hotline: 970-725-3412
|Gunnison||Project Hope of Gunnison Valley||Hotline: 970-275-1193
|Hinsdale||Project Hope of Gunnison Valley||Hotline: 970-275-1193
|Hinsdale||Rise Above Violence||Hotline: 970-264-9075
|Huerfano||Advocates Against Domestic Assault||Hotline: 719-846-6665
|Jackson||The Sexual Assault Victim Advocate (SAVA) Center||Hotline: 970-472-4200|
|Jefferson||The Blue Bench||Hotline: 303-322-7273
|Jefferson||Family Tree||Hotline: 303-420-6752|
|Jefferson||PeaceWorks, Inc.||Hotline: 303-838-8181
|Kiowa||Domestic Safety Resource Center||Hotline: 719-336-4357|
|Kit Carson||SARA House||Office: 970-867-2121|
|La Plata||Sexual Assault Services Organization (SASO)||Hotline: 970-247-5400
|Lake||Advocates of Lake County, Inc.||Hotline: 719-486-3530|
|Larimer||The Sexual Assault Victim Advocate (SAVA) Center||Hotline: 970-472-4200|
|Larimer||Estes Valley Crisis Advocates||Hotline: 970-586-4000
|Larimer||Alternatives to Violence||Hotline: 970-880-1000
|Las Animas||Advocates Against Domestic Assault||Hotline: 719-846-6665
|Lincoln||The Blue Bench||Hotline: 303-322-7273
|Logan||SARA House||Office: 970-867-2121|
|Mesa||Latimer House |
|Mineral||Tu Casa, Inc.||Hotline: 719-589-2465|
|Moffat||Open Heart Advocates (formerly Advocates Crisis Support Services of Craig)||Hotline: 970-824-2400
Office Line: 970-824-9709
|Montezuma||Renew, Inc.||Hotline: 970-565-2100
|Montrose||Latimer House |
|Morgan||SARA House||Office: 970-867-2121|
|Otero||Arkansas Valley Resource Center||Hotline: 719-384-7764|
|Ouray||Latimer House |
|Park||PeaceWorks, Inc.||Hotline: 303-838-8181
|Phillips||SARA House||Office: 970-867-2121|
|Pitkin||Response||Hotline: 970-925-SAFE (7233)
|Prowers||Domestic Safety Resource Center||Hotline: 719-336-4357|
|Pueblo||Pueblo Rape Crisis Services (PRCS)||Hotline: 719-549-0549
|Rio Blanco||Safehouse, Inc.||Office: 970-878-3131|
|Rio Grande||Tu Casa, Inc.||Hotline: 719-589-2465|
|Routt||Advocates of Routt County||Hotline: 970-879-8888
|Saguache||Tu Casa, Inc.||Hotline: 719-589-2465|
|San Juan||Sexual Assault Services Organization (SASO)||Hotline: 970-247-5400
|San Miguel||Alternative Horizons||Hotline: 970-247-9619|
|Sedgwick||SARA House||Office: 970-867-2121|
|Summit||Advocates for Victims of Assault||Hotline: 970-668-3906
|Washington||SARA House||Office: 970-867-2121|
|Weld||The Sexual Assault Victim Advocate (SAVA) Center||Hotline: 970-472-4200|
|Yuma||SARA House||Office: 970-867-2121|
|Sources:||Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Violence Free Colorado|
Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault
The Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) is “the collective voice of rape crisis advocates across the state of Colorado.” The organization works in a number of ways to address and prevent sexual assault across the state.
Colorado Clergy Abuse FAQs
How Do I Report Sexual Abuse By a Priest in Colorado?
If you or someone you know is in danger, call 911 immediately.
To report sexual abuse of a minor in Colorado:
Please call the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 844-CO-4-Kids (26-4-5437) to report child sexual abuse.
You may also report sexual abuse of a minor to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office by completing an online form found here.
To report any sexual assault:
If you or a loved one are a victim of sexual assault, you can report the assault in two main ways.
- Sexual assault can be reported to local law enforcement.
- Sexual assault can be reported by way of seeking a medical forensic exam.
If the victim seeks a forensic exam, the evidence will be sent to local law enforcement. The victim may choose to report anonymously. If he or she does so, no contact information will be included with the evidence sent to law enforcement.
The victim also has the right not to test the evidence. If the victim chooses this route, the law enforcement agency will hold onto the evidence for two years, during which time, a victim has the right to pursue criminal charges against the abuser.
Learn more about reporting abuse cases in Colorado here.
To report abuse to the Archdiocese of Denver:
Contact the Office of Child & Youth Protection by calling 720-239-2832 or emailing [email protected].
To report abuse to the Diocese of Colorado Springs:
You can electronically report abuse to the Colorado Springs Diocese by filling out the online form here.
To report abuse to the Diocese of Pueblo:
Report all abuse claims committed by a clergy member to the Vicar for Clergy.
Rev. Msgr. Edward Nunez | Vicar for Clergy
Phone: 719-544-9861 ext. 1121
Email Address: [email protected]
Report all abuse claims committed by a diocesan or parish staff member to the Diocesan Human Resources Department.
Nancy Martinez | Safe Environment and Human Resources
Phone: 719-544-9861 ext. 1110
Email Address: [email protected]
Do I Have to Currently Live in Colorado to File a Colorado Priest Abuse Lawsuit?
You do not have to live in Colorado to file a clergy sex abuse lawsuit in the state. However, the case must relate to the state in some way. For example, a survivor of abuse may file a lawsuit against a priest or a specific diocese in Colorado if the abuse took place there.
Who Can File on Behalf of a Victim?
Someone who has legal authority for a victim of abuse may file a lawsuit on the victim’s behalf. Most often, this person would be a victim’s parent, guardian or conservator. A victim’s estate may also seek legal action on behalf of the victim.
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Meneo Group managing partner: Ron Meneo
Ron Meneo is the managing partner of The Meneo Law Group. With more than 40 years of experience, he represents clients across the country on a variety of complex legal matters, including personal injury due to institutional sexual abuse, unsafe pharmaceutical drugs and other practice areas. He is a recipient of Martindale-Hubbell’s prestigious AV® Preeminent Rating. He has also served as an editor and contributor for several legal journals.
Archdiocese of Denver. (Updated 2020, March 16). Office of Child & Youth Protection.
Brown, J. (2019, October 7). Colorado attorney general announces new settlement fund for victims of Catholic priest abuse. The Colorado Sun.
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Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault. (Updated 2020, March 12). Rape Crisis Services. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
The Colorado Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program for the Archdiocese of Denver, the Diocese of Colorado Springs and the Diocese of Pueblo (“IRRP”). (N.D.) Home.
Department of Public Safety. (Updated 2017, December 28). Reporting Options for Victims of Sexual Assault. Colorado Department of Justice.
Diocese of Pueblo. (N.D.) Reporting Suspected Abuse.
Extend Statute Of Limitations Sexual Assault, House Bill 1260 (Colorado 2016).
Frosch, D. (2008, July 2). Denver Archdiocese to Pay $5.5 Million in Abuse Suits. The New York Times.
Lexis Nexis. (N.D.) C.R.S. 13-80-103.7.
Oravetz, J. (2020, February 19). 87 people file claims of sexual abuse by Colorado catholic priests. 9News.com.
Paul, J. (2020, February 13). Child sex abuse survivors victimized decades ago won’t be able to sue despite Colorado effort to end statute of limitations. The Colorado Sun.
Paul, J. (2020, June 12). Effort to give Colorado child sex assault survivors unlimited time to sue abusers is rejected. The Colorado Sun.
RAINN. (2020, March). Criminal Statutes of Limitations Colorado.
Stack, L. (2019, October 23). Colorado Report Accuses 43 Catholic Priests of Child Sex Abuse. The New York Times.
Unlawful Electronic Sexual Communication, House Bill 1030 (Colorado 2019).
Violence Free Colorado. (Updated 2018, August 27). Programs by County. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
(2018, May 31). Catholic dioceses and orders that filed for bankruptcy and other major settlements. The National Catholic Reporter.