Man sues Denver Archdiocese
August 18, 2005
DENVER – A man who alleges he was sexually abused by a Denver priest who spent time in Aspen filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking more than $10 million from the Archdiocese of Denver, claiming officials knew about other allegations against the priest but only transferred him to new parishes.Delbert Nielsen III, 53, of Carlsbad, N.M., alleges that Harold Robert White abused him during the 1960s. He is among 15 men who have told The Denver Post they were abused by White from the early 1960s through the early 1980s.”It’s just horrifying that the archdiocese would know this and continue to give him a fresh start with new victims,” said Jeffrey Herman, Nielsen’s attorney. Herman, based in Miami, specializes in representing sexual assault victims.White, a former pastor at St. Mary Catholic Church in Aspen, was in Aspen from 1978 to 1981, according to a timeline published recently in The Denver Post.White left public ministry in 1993 and left the priesthood in 2004. He does not have a listed telephone number and could not be located for comment.Archdiocese Chancellor Fran Maier said the archdiocese does not comment on lawsuits. He would not discuss White’s move from public ministry or departure from the priesthood, saying they were personnel matters.The lawsuit said White was a close friend of Nielsen’s family, sometimes taking vacations with them. It alleged White used that relationship to molest Nielsen beginning in about 1963, when Nielsen was 10, the document said.The suit claims that the archdiocese had already received allegations from other children about White at the time of the alleged abuse of Nielsen but that officials did nothing to protect Nielsen.The suit also claims that the archdiocese concealed information that would have helped Nielsen sue. According to the document, boys from St. Catherine Church in Denver and St. Mary Church in Colorado Springs had reported abuse by White in the early to mid-1960s.The suit claims that Nielsen suffered psychological, emotional and physical injuries.Sexual abuse lawsuits have crippled other dioceses across the country.The Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., filed for bankruptcy protection after settling about 130 abuse lawsuits dating from 1950 through 2003 for $53 million. The dioceses of Tucson, Ariz., and Spokane, Wash., also filed bankruptcy claims because of sex abuse allegations.The Boston Archdiocese has agreed to sell some assets to pay for multimillion-dollar settlements.An Associated Press review of known settlements found that the church has paid out more than $1 billion because of sex abuse claims in the United States since 1950. The figure, compiled in June and expected to rise because of hundreds of unsettled cases, includes settlement packages, legal fees, counseling and other expenses.