New victims join lawsuit against diocese and Ursuline sisters

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Eighteen new victims added their names to litigation against the Helena Diocese and Ursuline nuns for abuse they allege took place when they were children at Catholic parishes and boarding schools in Montana, according to a Tuesday news release from their Montana attorney, Vito de la Cruz.

The amended complaint adding the new victims was filed in Montana’s First Judicial District Court in Lewis and Clark County.

“Some of the students were day students and some boarded,” de la Cruz stated. “And some were abused not by priests, but by nuns who acted alone or in despicable cahoots with clergy.”

The amended complaint contends the priests and nuns used their positions as authority figures at schools and parishes to “molest, exploit and abuse children.”

“Perpetrators espoused religious guidance and educational values to the community that supported them, but the truth about what happened to the children who were victimized is horrific,” de la Cruz conveyed. De La Cruz also emphasized that today’s group of 18 reaches across the demographic spectrum. “The abuse was not confined to Native American children.”

Similar to prior allegations, today’s legal complaint alleges that the Helena Diocese “engaged in a pattern and practice of employing, sheltering and protecting clergy who it knew or should have known were engaged in sexual abuse.” The Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena consists of numerous parishes, including St. Ignatius Parish and Mission, St. Xavier Mission Parish, the Ursuline Academy, St. Joseph’s orphanage and others.