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Carmel priest sues diocese, claims he was falsely accused of child sexual abuse

Carmel priest sues Catholic church for defamation

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — A Carmel priest has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana after being suspended on what he says are false accusations of child sexual abuse.

The Rev. James DeOreo, a priest in the diocese, filed the $10 million suit in Boone County on Friday.

A release from DeOreo’s lawyers says DeOreo was suspended publicly in March 2022 following “‘inappropriate conduct with a minor’ and implications of sexual abuse.”

The suit claims that the suspension occurred after the diocese’s internal investigation, which “produced no evidence of misconduct.”

Allegations against DeOreo began in 2021 when a parishioner came forward claiming that he caused his eating disorder because DeOreo encouraged him to fast.

The Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana conducted an investigation and did not find the allegation to be true.
Despite that, the church still paid for him to undergo treatments with a therapist to deal with the eating disorder.

The lawsuit says a high-ranking member of the diocese sat in on those therapy sessions and told the parishioner that the church would open up a new investigation if he made new allegations against DeOreo.

Following therapy sessions, the parishioner claimed that DeOreo abused him by sexual harassment and grooming but said, “I would like to be clear from the start, at no point was there any sexual contact.”

The diocese opened a new investigation and stopped DeOreo from doing ministry with minors at his old parish, St. Alphonsus Liguori Roman Catholic Church in Zionsville.

After DeOreo seen at a swim meet in Carmel, the parishioner who accused him of sexual harassment complained to the church. That is when the church officially suspended DeOreo and sent parishioners at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Carmel a notice of the sexual harassment allegations.

Additional investigations from Indiana Child Protective Services and the Zionsville Police Department were closed due to “lack of evidence” or the victim reporting the abuse “not (being) a minor at the time of the alleged incidents.”

DeOreo sued the person accusing him of sexual harassment. That lawsuit was settled out of court on March 4.

DeOreo is now seeking $10 million for “reputational damage” caused by the “‘false, published March statement’ implying the diocese believed allegations of sexual abuse.”

The Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana said in a statement, “The diocese cannot discuss pending litigation; instead, we ask that you please join us in prayer for all those that are affected.”