Court dismisses abuse lawsuit against Diocese of Fort Worth

North Texas Catholic

January 11, 2018

Editor’s Note: View the complete statement here. 

FORT WORTH — On Wednesday a state district judge dismissed a lawsuit brought against the Diocese of Fort Worth related to allegations of sexual abuse by the late Father John Sutton and Principal Ron Staley in the 1990s.

Jason Montgomery filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Fort Worth in March 2015, claiming he was abused by the late Fr. Sutton while Montgomery was a student at Notre Dame Middle-High School in Wichita Falls from 1990-1992, the diocese said in a statement. Later, Montgomery amended the lawsuit, alleging that then-principal Ron Staley also sexually abused him while he attended Notre Dame.

Upon investigating Montgomery’s abuse allegations, the diocese, led by Bishop Michael F. Olson, found no evidence to support the claims in the lawsuit. In the press release, the diocese stated that no other allegations of sexual misconduct had ever been made against the late Fr. Sutton and Staley. Based on the lack of evidence, the diocese defended against the claims and sought dismissal of the lawsuit.

 “There is no objective evidence whatsoever to corroborate Mr. Montgomery’s allegations of sexual abuse,” said Michael D. Anderson, a partner at Kelly, Hart & Hallman LLP, who represented the diocese in the lawsuit. “Without supporting evidence, Mr. Montgomery’s abuse claims are barred by the statute of limitations.”

The late Father John Sutton, a priest of the Diocese of Pueblo, Colorado, taught at Notre Dame Middle-High School under contract from 1984 to 1992, at which time he left the Diocese of Fort Worth on his own accord to work as a priest at the Sacred Heart Church in Cando, North Dakota. He was not reassigned to another parish in the Fort Worth Diocese after his service at Notre Dame Middle-High School in Wichita Falls, Texas.

The court found that all of Montgomery’s claims were not supported by evidence. Montgomery could not point to any objective evidence that showed the abuse actually occurred. Further, Montgomery could not point to any evidence that supported his baseless allegations that Father Sutton or Principal Ron Staley had a propensity to sexually abuse minors, and that the Diocese of Fort Worth knew or should have known of such a propensity.  If the evidence supported Montgomery's claims, his case would not have been dismissed.

The statute of limitations had long passed before Montgomery ever contacted the Diocese in 2013 with the false claims of sexual abuse in 1990-1992.  Any notion about being strung along until the limitations period had passed is false and wholly incorrect.

The diocese will stay committed to providing a safe environment in its parishes and ministries, particularly for children and young people, and to reach out to those who have been abused, diocesan representatives stated.

“The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth and I are committed to ensuring the safety of the Church’s members, especially children and young people,” Bishop Olson said.  “Essential to this priority is the Diocese’s commitment to the truth in Christ.”

The Diocese of Fort Worth asks that anyone who has either witnessed or suffered sexual abuse by anyone who serves the Church to come forward so that the healing process can continue. To report abuse, call the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (Child Protective Services) at 800-252-5400. To report misconduct, call the victim assistance coordinator at 817-602-5119 or call the victim assistance hotline at 817-945-9345 and leave a message.

FORT WORTH — On Wednesday a state district judge dismissed a lawsuit brought against the Diocese of Fort Worth related to allegations of sexual abuse by the late Father John Sutton and Principal Ron Staley in the 1990s.

(until 1/11/2025)
Back