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Child Victims Act suit filed against former St. Joseph’s school

A Dunkirk man has filed a Child Victims Act lawsuit against the former St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and School for repeated abuse he alleged happened in the early 1960s.

The 20-page complaint was filed Tuesday in state Supreme Court in Chautauqua County. The Dunkirk man, who is not being identified, said he was abused by the Rev. Edward Walker between 1960 and 1962 when he was about 12 to 14 years old.

Walker was a priest at St. Joseph’s and was associated with Sisters of St. Joseph in Clarence. Sisters of St. Joseph was also named in the suit, with the city resident being represented by the New York City-based Marsh Law Firm. Northern Chautauqua Catholic School in Dunkirk also is named as one of the defendants in the court filing.

Further, the suit claims the victim was “sexually abused by Father Walker when he was approximately 12 to 14 years old. The sexual abuse occurred numerous times. … From approximately 1962 through approximately 1964, Father Walker exploited the trust and authority vested in him by the defendants by grooming (the victim) to gain his trust and to obtain control over him as part of Father Walker’s plan to sexually molest and abuse (the victim) and other children.”

The suit claims the abuse took place at St. Joseph’s and other locations, including the church rectory.

The Dunkirk man is seeking damages for negligence and outrage and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Walker, who has since passed away, has been accused of other abuse since the Child Victims Act law passed in New York state. He was named in an Aug. 13, 2019, complaint by a victim who claimed the priest abused him at the 145 E. Main St. church and “other venues” between 1953 and 1963.

According to the victim’s attorney, the abuse took place weekly when the male victim was 12 to 21 years old. The encounters began after the victim’s father had died.

“This abuse had been going on since my client was 12 years old,” the attorney said at the time the lawsuit was filed. “He had been searching for answers after his father’s death, and this priest took advantage of this vulnerability.”

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