Colorado Clergy Abuse Lawsuits
Colorado survivors have filed dozens of clergy abuse lawsuits against members of the Catholic Church. There are more than 40 priests accused of abuse in Colorado. According to the attorney general’s report, 166 children were sexually abused by these priests.
Colorado’s open “look back” window gives many of these survivors a second chance to file a lawsuit and hold their abusers accountable.
2021 | Michael O’Brien Accused Of 300 Abuse Incidents
In December 2021, Keegan Callahan filed a civil lawsuit, accusing former Aspen priest Michael O’Brien of child sexual abuse. The alleged abuse occurred from 2004 to 2008. When the abuse began, Callahan was a seven-year-old altar boy at St. Mary Catholic Church.
According to Callahan, O’Brien abused him approximately 300 times, including acts of physical assault. The lawsuit accused the Archdiocese of Denver and St. Mary Catholic Church of negligence for retaining O’Brien.
2022 | Survivor Accuses James Moreno, Six Other Priests
In 2022, Brian Barzee filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Denver. The lawsuit accused Father James Moreno of repeated sexual abuse. From 1978 to 1982, Moreno allegedly abused Barzee hundreds of times while he attended St. Andrew’s Preparatory Seminary High School. According to Barzee, six other priests were aware of the abuse and several participated.
Moreno was laicized in 2020 after confessing to separate accusations of abuse.
When a priest, deacon or bishop is laicized, he is no longer considered a member of the clergy. Laicization is also commonly known as “defrocking.”
Clergy Abuse Settlements In Colorado
To avoid lengthy, costly trials, the Catholic dioceses of Colorado have settled many priest abuse cases.
By October 2020, the Archdiocese of Denver settled more than 70 claims against abusive priests. The archdiocese paid more than $8.2 million to settle all the claims.
Many of these settlements were paid from the Colorado Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program (IRRP).
Colorado Independent Reconciliation And Reparations Program
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 chose to accept the money through the IRRP, they waived any future rights to sue the dioceses.
The IRRP covered claims against Colorado priests accused of abuse within the following Roman Catholic dioceses:
- The Archdiocese of Denver
- The Diocese of Pueblo
- The Diocese of Colorado Springs
In April 2021, the program announced the final details of the program. More than 90 people filed claims through the IRRP. The program deemed 81 of these claimants eligible for compensation. The Colorado dioceses paid a total of $7.3 million dollars in compensation to claimants.
The IRRP is closed and no longer accepting new claims.
Child Sex Abuse Statutes Of Limitations In Colorado
In 2021, Colorado lawmakers passed two significant bills that impact the statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse survivors.
- Senate Bill 73 (SB 73) eliminated Colorado’s civil statute of limitations regarding sexual assault and child sexual abuse.
- Senate Bill 88 (SB 88) opened a three-year “look back” window. This window revives most expired claims of child sexual abuse in the state of Colorado.
Civil Statute For Child Sex Abuse In Colorado
SB 73 goes into effect in 2022. Thus, as of January 1, 2022, there is no statute of limitations for civil claims of sexual assault and child sexual abuse in Colorado.
SB 73 eliminated Colorado’s civil statute of sexual assault and child sexual abuse for recent and future victims.
Beginning January 1, 2022, survivors can seek civil justice under the following statutes:
- Survivors sexually abused or assaulted on or after January 1, 2022, have unlimited time to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser or the responsible institution.
- Survivors assaulted before January 1, 2022, have unlimited time to file a civil claim if their claim was still valid under the previous six-year statute.
SB 73 expanded the legal rights of many abuse survivors in the state of Colorado. However, this bill’s provisions were not retroactive. Many survivors who were abused years ago would still have been unable to file claims. Thus, lawmakers passed SB 88 to open a legal “look back” window to revive many of these older claims.
Colorado’s “Look Back” Window
SB 88 opened a three-year retroactive window for civil claims of child sexual abuse.
During the three-year period, most child sexual abuse survivors in the state of Colorado will be eligible to file civil claims against abusers or the responsible institutions.
There are some limitations to the revival window. SB 88 does not revive all past abuse claims. The window only revives child sexual abuse claims related to incidents that occurred on or after January 1, 1960. Any older claims are still time-barred.
SB 88 also caps monetary damages for civil claims against responsible institutions that ignored or concealed abuse allegations.
- Damages against a public government entity found guilty of covering up abuse will be capped at $387,000.
- Damages against private entities will be capped up to $1 million. The Colorado Catholic dioceses are one example of private entities that may be sued under the revival window.
The three-year window opens on January 1, 2022. The window will close on December 31, 2024.
You May Have Legal Rights
Speak With Our Lawyers About Colorado’s Statutes Today
Criminal Statute For Child Sex Abuse In Colorado
In Colorado, there is no criminal statute of limitations for felony sexual offenses committed against a minor.
Learn more about Colorado’s criminal statutes of limitations for child sexual offenses here.
List Of Accused Priests 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.
Talk to our lawyers today to learn more about the legal options available to you.
Survivors May Be Eligible For Compensation
Learn About Filing a Lawsuit in Colorado
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
If you believe any of the Roman Catholic priests accused of abuse in Colorado were active abusers in other states, you can 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.
History Of Clergy Abuse In Colorado
In February 2019, former U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer began an investigation into accusations of child sexual abuse within the Colorado Catholic dioceses. The investigation lasted 22 months.
On December 1, 2020, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser released the final report. The report was the first step for the state to address decades of clergy abuse in Colorado.
Investigators documented 212 cases of priest abuse in the Colorado dioceses since 1950. A total of 52 priests and clergy members were involved in the abuse of more than 160 children. The report also revealed previously-unknown allegations against prominent priest Charles Woodrich.
Charles Woodrich Abused Multiple Children
Father Charles Woodrich, commonly referred to as “Father Woody,” was well known within his local community. He founded a homeless shelter in Denver and became known as the “patron saint of the poor.” However, allegations in the attorney general’s report revealed Woodrich was accused of sexually abusing multiple children.
One survivor accused Woodrich of abuse over a period of six years, beginning when he was 12 years old. Woodrich died in 1991 before allegations against him were ever made public.
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. The list below includes sexual violence support programs in Colorado, 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 Clergy Abuse FAQs
What Is The Statute Of Limitations On Priest Sexual Abuse In Colorado?
There is no statute of limitations for civil claims of sexual assault and child sexual abuse in Colorado. Legislators eliminated the civil statute in January 2022.
Lawmakers also opened a three-year “look back” window to revive many expired sexual abuse claims in Colorado. This window will close on December 31, 2024.
How Do I Report Sexual Abuse By A Priest In Colorado?
If you or a suspected victim is in danger, call 911 immediately.
To report suspected child sexual abuse, please call the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 844-CO-4-Kids (26-4-5437).
Learn more about reporting abuse cases in Colorado here.
After reporting abuse to law enforcement, survivors may also choose to report abuse to the relevant Catholic diocese in Colorado:
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.
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(2018, May 31). Catholic dioceses and orders that filed for bankruptcy and other major settlements. The National Catholic Reporter.