Boys Town Asks Judge to Dismiss Lawsuit Alleging Sexual Abuse

Associated Press, carried on the Web site of station KVOA [Tucson AZ]
April 18, 2003

Boys Town has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit that alleges sexual abuse decades ago at the home for wayward youth.

James Duffy, a former Boys Town resident, claims in a lawsuit filed in January that he was repeatedly molested by a priest and a counselor over two years before Duffy left the home's main campus just west of Omaha in 1979.

Repressed memories of the abuse did not surface until after February 2002, Duffy claims in court documents.

Boys Town's attorney, James Martin Davis, said the case does not fall under the federal court's jurisdiction. Duffy is asking for only a minimum of $50,000 in damages, while federal courts only review civil lawsuits where at least $75,000 in damages are involved.

"That's a mistake that is going to get this dismissed for sure," Davis said Friday.

Duffy's failure to report the alleged abuse until 24 years later also exceeds the statute of limitations of one year, Davis argued in briefs filed Monday with Boys Town's motion to dismiss.

Duffy's attorney, William Walker of Phoenix, was traveling Friday and did not immediately return a message left at his office.

A hearing has yet to be scheduled on Boys Town's request in U.S. District Court in Omaha.

Duffy, who now lives in Tucson, Ariz., claimed that the family counselor in his Boys Town home, the late Michael Wolf, and the Rev. James E. Kelly each molested him on separate occasions, leaving him with serious physical and psychological injuries.

The lawsuit names Father Flanagan's Boys Home, the parent corporation of what is now Girls and Boys Town, and the Catholic Archdiocese of Omaha.

Wolf and Kelly are not named as defendants.

Kelly has adamantly denied the allegations and has told The Associated Press that he is considering a lawsuit to clear his name. The priest was placed on administrative from his work as a prison chaplain in Carson City, Nev., after Duffy's lawsuit was filed.

Another former Boys Town resident, however, did name Kelly in a separate lawsuit filed last month against Boys Town. That man, who identified himself only as John Doe, claims he was repeatedly abused by Kelly and Wolf starting in 1981.

That man also lives in Arizona and is represented by the same attorney as Duffy.

Boys Town is conducting its own investigation into the allegations. In the meantime, Boys Town officials have said the men's claims are unfounded.

Wolf and Kelly both left Boys Town in 1983. Kelly also was accused of sexual misconduct in 1983 and 1984 in New York, but two investigations by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany found the allegations not credible. However, the diocese did send Kelly to therapy and evaluation after the first investigation in the mid-1980s.

Boys Town was started in 1917 by the Rev. Edward Flanagan as a home for wayward boys. It was made famous by the Oscar-winning 1938 Spencer Tracy movie "Boys Town."

The home's name was changed to Girls and Boys Town in 2000 to reflect the growing number of girls it serves.


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