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Former St. Charles Student Files Lawsuit Alleging Sexual Abuse

St. Charles Preparatory School
St. Charles Preparatory School

A former student of St. Charles Preparatory School has filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Columbus, Archbishop Frederick Campbell and the school alleging sexual abuse. The anonymous man claims the abuse took place during the 2002-2003 school year.

The lawsuit explains that the student claims that during his freshman year he was sexually molested on at least six separate occasions by Monsignor Thomas Bennett while on school grounds. Bennett, who died in 2008, was a member of the St. Charles faculty.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants became aware of Bennett's alleged molestation of the student, but failed to take any action.

The lawsuit was filed July 5, 2018 and seeks several million dollars from each defendant for compensatory and punitive damages. 

The principal at St. Charles Preparatory School sent a letter to parents by email late last month.

The letter confirms the student's complaint of abuse by the Rev. Msgr. Thomas Bennett.  Principal James Lower writes that the former student contacted him about his allegations.  Lower says he reported those to the authorities, and later learned that a complaint had been filed in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

Lower also states that Diocesan officials have no records of any allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct involving Msgr. Bennett during his more than 40 years of service in the St. Charles community and the Diocese of Columbus.

The school and the diocese are referring all comments to their legal counsel.

WOSU contacted the law firm representing St. Charles Preparatory and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus.  Attorney Robert Schuler says he was not comfortable making any comment since "we haven't even responded to the case."

Schuler says he expects the case to continue for a possible trial next year.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.