Former St. Charles student files lawsuit, claims he was sexually abused by priest

Local News

A former student of the St. Charles Preparatory Academy has filed a lawsuit, alleging that he was sexually abused by a longtime instructor at the school.

The man, who is unidentified in the lawsuit, claims Reverend Monsignor Thomas Bennett molested him approximately six times, while on school grounds during the 2002-2003 school year.

According to the Catholic Diocese of Columbus, Bennett served at the school for 46 years. He passed away in 2008.

The Roman Catholic Diocese, Archbishop Frederick Campbell and St. Charles Preparatory Academy are all named as defendants in the complaint, which was filed last month in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

According to the filing the defendants were named because they, “…became aware of Bennett’s harmful conduct and/or molestations of students, including Plaintiff, yet negligently failed to report Bennett’s illegal and harmful conduct, concealed the conduct, failed to take any action to investigate the details of Bennett’s conduct, failed to protect Plaintiff from harm, failed to identify Plaintiff as a victim in order to offer him aid and assistance, and failed to warn and inform him of Bennett’s propensities.”

The former student is seeking at least $2 million in damages.

According to the lawyer representing the Catholic Diocese of Columbus, Bishop Campbell and St. Charles, the school has sent a letter to the parents of current students and alumni which addresses this situation.

Dear St. Charles Family:

As part of St. Charles’ ongoing effort to provide our students, parents, and staff with information concerning our school community, I wish to inform you that I was contacted recently by a former St. Charles student alleging that he was abused in the early 2000s by the Rev. Msgr. Thomas Bennett. Upon receipt of this complaint, I reported the allegation promptly to authorities. I have subsequently been informed that a complaint has been filed in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, and St. Charles has been named as a defendant in the case.

Msgr. Bennett taught and served the St. Charles community and the Diocese of Columbus for more than 40 years, up until his death in 2008. After reviewing Diocesan records and school files, Diocesan officials have informed me that there is no record of any allegation of sexual abuse or misconduct involving Msgr. Bennett during his years of service to the Church.

Because this matter is in litigation, any questions you have concerning the allegations asserted in the case should be directed to our legal counsel, Rob Schuler and Chris Weber of the law firm Kegler, Brown, Hill & Ritter. Thank you in advance for your understanding in this regard.

Please know that your child’s safety is our first priority. St. Charles and the Office of Catholic Schools are committed to providing a safe and secure environment to all persons within our school. Established programs and guidelines are in place to offer assistance and protection to anyone who feels endangered or threatened.

Students, parents, teachers, and administrators are instructed to notify immediately local law enforcement and St. Charles administration if made aware of any form of abuse, either within or beyond our school environment, both in the present and in the past. School and Diocesan officials will continue the long standing policy and practice of reporting all information regarding these matters to authorities. Persons who believe they need pastoral or clinical care to begin or continue the process of healing may also contact the Diocesan Victims’ Assistance Coordinator at 1-866-448-0217 or

helpisavailable@columbuscatholic.org

Sincerely,

James R. Lower

Principal

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