Mark Matson & William Mueller: Twists in cases about alleged molesting priest, Catholic brother

Fresh developments in two cases involving alleged child molesters from religious backgrounds with a past in Colorado.

This week, a judge declined to toss a lawsuit against Father Mark Matson, who's accused of molesting a teenage boy at a Denver boarding school circa the '70s. And William Muller, a Catholic brother targeted in a multi-million-dollar judgment in Pueblo two years ago was ordered to pay $500,000 by a St. Louis court in a separate case.

Attorney Adam Horowitz, based in Miami, represents the plaintiffs in both actions; he specializes in working with alleged child-sex abuse victims, focusing on accusations against the clergy.

Back in April, Horowitz sued Matson and the Theatine Fathers, a Colorado religious order, for alleged abuse committed against a boy in his middle teens at St. Andrews Seminary during the 1970s. The accusations against Matson are described in a release about the case:

While staying in the dorms as a prospective student, the victim, identified only as John Doe, was fondled by Matson. After he enrolled, Matson continued to fondle him throughout the school year, and Matson eventually raped the boy while he was unconscious.

The release also notes that "Matson has previously been accused of molesting boys in Colorado, Texas and California. He is currently serving a twenty-year sentence for molesting a thirteen-year-old boy in Hawaii in 2000."

Nonetheless, the Theatine Fathers attempted to get the latest lawsuit against Matson tossed, arguing among other things that it hadn't been filed within the statute of limitations. But on Wednesday, Judge Michael D. Martinez issued an order denying the motion to dismiss the case against Matson. It reads in part:

The claims alleged by Plaintiff against the Theatine Fathers are not for the acts of abuse, but rather, for breach of fiduciary duty and negligence. The Court is not persuaded by the Theatine Fathers' argument that Plaintiff's mere knowledge that Father Matson was a priest of the Theatine Fathers at the time of the abuse establishes as a matter of law that Plaintiff thereby knew, or should have known in the exercise of reasonable diligence, the cause of his claims now asserted against the Theatine Fathers. To the contrary, taken as true for purposes of the Theatine Fathers' motion, Plaintiff has made allegations that he has only recently learned of the Theatine Fathers' misconduct. This is sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss...

Regarding Mueller, now 71 and living in Texas, he was a Catholic brother who taught at Roncalli High School in Pueblo approximately three decades ago. As noted in a Pueblo Chieftain article published last year, a lawsuit alleged that Mueller "molested or raped [student plaintiffs] after rendering them helpless with ether by telling them he was conducting trust experiments on them."

In 2008, the Pueblo Catholic Diocese wound up settling that case for $4.2 million, with $1 million of that total coming from the Marianists religious order that assigned Mueller to Roncalli in the first place.

The Pueblo incidents took place in the early '70s -- but Mueller apparently continued his molesting for many years after that. St. Louis-based Riverfront Times, a sister paper of Westword, reports an incident involving plaintiff Bryan Bacon from 1985. An excerpt from the lawsuit reads:

Plaintiff came to Bro. Mueller's office the next day during his Physical Education period.

When Plaintiff arrived, Bro. Mueller instructed Plaintiff to lock the door to Mueller's office. Again, Mueller emphasized that the project had to be kept secret. Bro. Mueller then had Bryan sit in a chair in the center of the office and then asked Bryan a number of questions. Bro. Mueller then walked up behind Bryan and began to touch Bryan's neck, upper back and chest, including rubbing Bryan's nipples.

Bro. Mueller then began asking Bryan if he was frightened. At that point, Bryan was asked to stand up where Br. Mueller began to rub Bryan's neck, back, chest and nipples. Bro. Mueller then went to his desk and found a black blindfold and secured it over Bryan's eyes.

The entire time, Bro. Mueller continued to ask Bryan if he was scared. Next, Bro. Mueller pulled Bryan very close to him and began breathing hard and began to kiss Bryan's neck and ear. Id. Next, Bro. Mueller went to his desk and removed something from the desk and then Br. Mueller pressed a knife against Bryan's throat.

Again, Bro. Mueller asked Bryan if he was scared. At that point, Bro. Mueller began to breathe hard, kiss Bryan and began to press his penis against Bryan's back, simulating intercourse on Bryan's buttocks through his clothing.

The entire time, Bro. Mueller continued to press the knife against Bryan's throat. After a short period, Bro. Mueller was interrupted by a telephone call. Bro. Mueller then removed the blindfold and rather harshly, reminded Bryan to not tell anyone about the "experiment."

A few weeks after the incident described above, Bro. Mueller was removed from his position at St. John Vianney because of stress and personal matters.

For that horror, Mueller has been ordered to pay half a million dollars.

Page down to read releases from Horowitz about the Matson case.

New court ruling lets predator priest case go forward

Cleric now in prison for molesting a 13 year old boy in 2000

Denver judge ruled that civil case can proceed, even though it happened 30 years ago

A Denver judge is letting a clergy sex abuse case involving a Catholic priest move forward, even though church officials tried to get it tossed out.

On Wednesday, District Court Judge Michael Martinez denied a motion by a Denver-based religious order to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a 49-year old man who reports having been sexually abused by Fr. Mark Matson in the mid 1970s at St. Andrews Seminary, a Catholic boarding school in Denver for boys. At the time, the boy was 15-16 and Matson headed the school.

While staying in the dorms as a prospective student, the victim, identified only as John Doe, was fondled by Matson. After he enrolled, Matson continued to fondle him throughout the school year, and Matson eventually raped the boy while he was unconscious.

Matson has previously been accused of molesting boys in Colorado, Texas, and California. He is currently serving a 20 year sentence for molesting a 13 year old boy in Hawaii in 2000.

Matson belongs to the Denver-based Theatine Fathers, a Catholic religious order. The Theatines were named as the defendant in the lawsuit, which was filed in April of this year by Miami attorney, Adam Horowitz. Horowitz' firm has represented hundreds of child sex abuse victims, by clergy and others.

The suit charges negligence by the Theatines because they allegedly "knew that Fr. Matson was a pedophile before Fr. Matson sexually abused the boy." Additionally, it alleges that the Theatines "engaged in a plot to conceal, withhold, and misrepresent their prior knowledge about Fr. Matson's sexual propensities with minors."

The judge ruled that the plaintiff only recently learned of the Theatines misconduct, so the case falls within the statute of limitations.

A support group for clergy sex abuse victims called SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) praised the judge for his interpretation of the law.

"All across the country, more and more judges are realizing that a young girl being raped by her step dad can't promptly call the police about the crimes and that a boy being sodomized by a coach can't run downtown, walk in the prosecutor's office, and start taking legal action," said David Clohessy, SNAP's director. "It takes decades for child sex victims to face the horror, realize they've been severely harmed, understand that the harm is on-going, and find the courage to check out their legal options and act."

In June, the Theatines moved to have Doe's case rejected based on the statute of limitations. That defense, however, draws a sharp rebuke from SNAP.

"It's morally wrong for an allegedly spiritual institution to fight in court like cold-hearted CEOs, trying to exploit an arbitrary legal technicality to evade telling the truth and being held responsible for a serial child predator," said SNAP's Clohessy. "Can you imagine Jesus shunning a needy person because he or she supposedly didn't come forward by some archaic, random deadline?"

The religious order has 15 days to answer the allegations.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts