Make your home page

Carmel priest sues man who accused him of inappropriate conduct

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — A suspended Catholic priest who was an associate pastor in Carmel is now suing the man who accused him of inappropriate conduct.

Before the Rev. James DeOreo worked at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church, he was a priest at St. Alphonsus Liguori Catholic Church in Zionsville. It was during this time that DeOreo met the then-high school student who would later sue him, according to a lawsuit filed by DeOreo on April 4.

In January 2021, the student wrote a letter to the Diocese of Lafayette, claiming he was trying to become a priest when the DeOreo used his position to emotionally abuse him. The student accused DeOreo of urging him to participate in a fasting program that “spiraled into a vicious eating disorder.”

Court documents say the diocese investigated those claims, but found no evidence of wrongdoing and took no action.

DeOreo’s lawsuit says the student wrote another letter to the diocese in October. This time, according to court papers, the student accused DeOreo of sexual misconduct, writing, “I have been able to come to terms with aspects of the abuse that I had previously been unable to; namely, sexual harassment and grooming on the part of Fr. DeOreo.”

Court documents show that the student is not accusing DeOreo of any physical contact or demands of a sexual nature.

In the lawsuit, DeOreo also claims the student demanded nearly $300,000 in damages “because of Fr. DeOreo and the diocese’s intentional and negligent acts.” It says that if the diocese settles in court, he will no longer be able to work in the parish.

DeOreo denies all of the claims made against him, saying in the lawsuit that he did not make “any attempt to groom the student, nor did he even consider sexual assault, sexual harassment or inappropriate conduct.”

News 8 reached out to both attorneys for comment and did not hear back.

Lawyers from both sides agreed to move the case from a Hamilton County court to one in Boone County, where the former student lives.

A spokesperson from the Diocese of Lafayette said that “the diocese cannot discuss pending litigation; instead, we ask that you please join us in prayer for all those that are affected.”