Attorneys Reject 50 Abuse Claims

By Paul A. Long
The Cincinnati Post [Kentucky]
July 28, 2006

About 50 claims for money from an $85 million settlement of allegations of sexual abuse against priests or other employees of the Diocese of Covington have been rejected as not credible, attorneys involved told a special judge Thursday.

The special masters overseeing the fund have received nearly 400 claims, Robert Steinberg told Special Judge John Potter.

Steinberg said he expects at least 300 of those to be legitimate.

No money has yet been paid out yet.

One of those whose claim was rejected is a child molester from Kenton County serving a 35-year prison sentence.

Larry Howell was arrested in 2001 after a mother who accused Howell of molesting her son lured him to a meeting and shot him twice between his legs. Howell recovered, and a grand jury refused to indict the woman.

Erlanger, Ky., police, investigating the woman's claims, found more than two dozen nude photos of young boys in Howell's home. He later was convicted of providing them with drugs, and pleaded guilty to 44 counts of sexual abuse.

In a recent letter to The Kentucky Post, Howell complained that the process for payments for the diocese is "fishy" because his complaint that Father Earl Bierman abused him in the 1970s was turned down.

Bierman, who died last year at the age of 73, was serving a 20-year prison sentence for sexually abusing boys in Mason, Kenton, and Campbell counties from the early 1960s through 1976.

Howell said he was one of Bierman's victims in the early 1970s, and told police that in 1993 as they were investigating the priest. Howell said he played next to the church where Bierman was assigned and the priest befriended him.

"I told them how Bierman used to take me on camping trips, to eat, would buy me clothes or tapes etc. because he was having sex with me," Howell wrote to The Post.

"At the time, I thought he bought me those things because he loved me. I was a kid and wanted to be loved by someone, anyone."

Howell is now 45 and serving his sentence at the Green River Correctional Complex.

He also gave The Post the rejection letter signed by the special masters, William Burleigh, chairman of the board of the E.W. Scripps Co., and Thomas D. Lambros of Ashtabula, Ohio, former chief judge in the Northern District of Ohio.

"We have reviewed the census form and claim form you submitted, as well as the additional materials submitted by counsel," the letter said. "Based on that information, we have determined that your allegation is not credible. Your claim is therefore denied."

Steinberg would not comment on the specifics of Howell's claim. But he said several claims have been rejected from inmates and others who said they passed through Covington in the 1970s, made friends with a priest, and were subsequently molested.

Howell claimed the rejection of his claim was part of conspiracy so the church doesn't have to pay out more money.


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