Kansas City sexual abuse lawsuit begins Monday

Former altar boy Jon David Couzens filed a sexual abuse lawsuit in 2011 against the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, in which he alleges that the diocese "intentionally failed to supervise a priest who repeatedly abused Couzens three decades ago," according to The Kansas City Star.

Couzens alleges that Msgr. Thomas J. O'Brien, now deceased, "sexually abused Couzens and three other youths in the early 1980s when they were altar boys at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Independence," the Star reported.

The lawsuit is the first of its kind to go to trial before a jury in the Kansas City area. It will be held before Jackson County Circuit Judge Jim Kanatzar in Independence, Mo., and is expected to last 10 days. Jury selection starts Thursday with opening statements slated for the following Monday. 

The diocese's potential witness list includes eight priests and two nuns. Couzens' witnesses include Bishop Robert Finn and seven other priests.

The diocese has been fighting to keep the case from going to trial; it filed motion upon motion and had all but one count dismissed. The diocese argues that Couzens' allegations "came long after the time established by Missouri statute and that his claims of repressed memory were invalid," the Star reported.

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