On Monday, August 26, 2019, Aldous \ Walker filed a lawsuit against the Jesuit Preparatory School of Dallas, the Jesuit Order, and several Texas Dioceses of the Catholic Church on behalf of a former student who claims he was sexually abused by a priest and former school President, who has been listed on two different diocese’s list of priests who have been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse of a minor.
The lawsuit accuses Jesuit Prep and the Catholic Church of failing to protect the student, and subsequently working to cover up the systemic abuse and dangers at the school.
The lawsuit – filed in Dallas County (CC-19-05279-B) – was brought on behalf of a now 54-year-old client identified as “John Doe” in the complaint. It names Jesuit Prep, the Catholic Society of Religious and Literary Education (dba Jesuits of the New Orleans Province), and several Texas Roman Catholic Dioceses as defendants, including the:
- Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas;
- Roman Catholic Diocese of Corpus Christi;
- Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Antonio; and
- Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
Our sexual abuse lawsuit against Jesuit Prep and the Catholic Church was recently profiled by The Dallas Morning News. Read the full article here.
About the Case: Claims Target Former Jesuit Prep President
The case concerns Father Patrick H. Koch, a Catholic Priest who served as Jesuit Prep’s Principal, (1972-1979), President (1979-1980), and Alumni Director (1980-1986). Koch died in 2006 at the age of 78.
Koch, who is alleged to have sexual abused the victim while he was a sophomore at Jesuit Prep, was included among the over 30 priests listed in the Dallas Diocese’ January 2019 release of clergy who have been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse against children, as well as a list released by the Corpus Christi Diocese.
Koch never faced criminal charges in connection to sexual abuse or misconduct, and was not named among a similar list of accused clergy released by the Jesuit Order in December 2018. Koch’s family also filed an appeal with the Church over the inclusion of his name.
Former Student Alleges Sexual Abuse & Cover Up
In his interview with The Dallas Morning News, our client spoke with reporters about the lasting repercussions the abuse has had on his physical, psychological, and emotional well-being, which continue to this day. He also commented as to how Koch, revered as the face of Jesuit, had a public persona far from the one he knew before graduating from Jesuit Preparatory in 1983.
The abuse, which occurred while he was a minor student, led to poor grades, suicidal thoughts, and a decades-long debacle over his faith, as well as difficulties with relationships and substance abuse. He remembers hanging out with the wrong crowd, daily bouts of vomiting in the shower before school, his strained relationship with his parents suffered. Although he went on to college, he dropped out and did not earn a degree.
The man goes on to share his story as a student at Jesuit Prep, where he worked part-time in exchange for financial aid. As part of a school program which helped pay his tuition, he would answer phones at the school’s switchboard in the afternoon before doing the same in the priests’ residential quarters during the evening.
Apart from seeing current and former students meeting priests after hours, our client explains how he was called out of class one day during his sophomore year by Koch, who was then a Counselor at the school but continued to work out of the President’s office.
In his office, the student was made to “get comfortable,” sit on the floor, and close his eyes and count backwards to 10. He recalls how, while holding the Priest’s hands in a show of compliance, he felt a kiss on his lips, and heard Koch telling him everything was OK.
"It's at that point where I don't recall what happened after that," he said. "I don't recall leaving the office. I don't really recall anything throughout the rest of the course of that school day."
As with many abuse victims, the man repressed his memories about the encounter and abuse. Repressed memories often occur to victims of extreme stress and trauma as a defense mechanism. Attorneys Charla Aldous and Brent Walker explained to the The Dallas Morning News that their client’s life was altered by what occurred in Koch’s office, but he has never been able to recall the exact details of what occurred because of the psychological repression.
Late last year, following the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas’ release of its “credibly accused” clergy list, which included Koch, and the Jesuit’s own list, which did not, the man says he began to remember some of what happened, and that he was angered by the Jesuit’s omission. He stated he still doesn’t recall everything, and according to a psychiatrist, additional details of what specifically occurred may or may not emerge into his consciousness as the case and his treatment proceeds.
Justice & Accountability: Taking on the Catholic Church
Our clients’ story is unfortunately not an isolated incident. Claims of sexual abuse have ravished the Catholic Church, and have revealed decades of child sex abuse and systemic, sweeping cover-ups by Church leaders. As noted in the lawsuit:
"Patrick Koch was the sexual abuser, but he did not and could not have acted alone. He was in the position to abuse John Doe because of the actions of the defendants in this case and their cover-up of the dangers at the school, the danger of Patrick Koch, and the systemic crisis. Jesuit created and fostered a community where abuse would occur, and the school did nothing to prevent the problem despite its obviousness.
The lawsuit – a display of our client’s tremendous courage – is a step toward not only some semblance of justice and closure for his experiences and their lasting damages, but also a critical part of uncovering what the Catholic Church and Jesuit Prep knew about abuse within its ranks, and when it knew it. This is particularly important in that it is not the first time Jesuit Prep has face abuse allegations.
In March of this year, another former student filed suit against the school alleging abuse by a former priest in the late 1970s. In May, after a detective reported the Church’s attempt to “thwart” an investigation into child sex abuse, Dallas police raided the offices of the Dallas Diocese. The warrant claimed the Diocese “hid past allegations, turned over incomplete records and blocked attempts by officers to determine whether accusers' claims were fully examined.”
Although events central to the lawsuit occurred decades ago, and while Koch is now deceased and was never charged with a crime in relation to the allegations, our client is exercising his right to seek justice and recompense through the civil justice system – which has different rules and procedures than criminal courts, and which focus on a defendants’ negligent or wrongful acts and financial responsibility for resulting damages, rather than criminal guilt.
Aldous \ Walker is thankful for the trust our client and his family have placed in our legal team as we begin this important legal journey. As attorneys experienced in handling civil claims over sexual abuse and assault – including a high-profile case against the Episcopal School of Dallas, and a $32M verdict secured on behalf of a North Dallas high school student sexually assaulted by two football players – we intend to leverage our insight to pursue the justice and compensation our client deserves – and help expose what we claim is a systemic problem of abuse and willful cover-ups within the Catholic Church.Aldous \ Walker is a Dallas-based Civil Trial Law Firm with a reputation for securing results in complex, high-stakes, and high-profile cases. Learn more about our firm and our legal team on our website, or contact us to speak with an attorney.