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Trial Dates Set For Washington Diocese Rape Suit

Last updated on Wednesday, March 21, 2012

(WASHINGTON) - A trial date has been set in the case of a Hispanic woman alleging the Evansville Catholic Diocese persuaded her not to report a rape at the old St. Mary’s School in Washington.

According to Nate Smith of the Times-Hearld, parties in the case against the Diocese, the Catholic Community of Washington, and three individuals will have their day in Daviess Circuit Court from June 18 to 26. The last pre-trial conference is set for May 18.

The case stems from an alleged cover-up over five years ago involving a then 23-year-old girl, who was raped by Fredy Mendez-Morales, then 27, at the old St. Mary's School. The school was since sold to Harvest Community Fellowship and houses Cornerstone Christian Academy. No members of the Catholic Community of Washington were named in the suit, but because the church owned the building in 2007, they were named.

According to complaints filed in 2010, the victim, who has been classified as mentally handicapped, was at an abstinence retreat hosted by the diocese and run by two employees of the Guadalupe Center in Huntingburg. At around 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 4, 2007, Mendez-Morales raped the girl in a bathroom.

After the incident, the victim was allegedly told by Kande Batz, one of the employees of the retreat, to shower after the incident and they would take care of it in the morning.

It was after then that Batz, along with Seminarian Jorge Gomez and Sister Karen Durliat, allegedly told the victim's mother the sex was consensual. The family wanted to contact the police was allegedly persuaded not to by church officials. Only after insistence by family members, Washington police did come and were met outside the building by church officials. The officer never met with the victim.

Batz then allegedly told the victim and her mother to go to a pharmacy and get the "morning after pill to prevent contraception.

Instead, according to the complaint, the victim and her family went to Daviess Community Hospital, where the Indiana State Police was called and a rape investigation was started.

Mendez-Morales was arrested and later pled guilty to four counts relating to the rape. Two doctors who interviewed the victim said she was not mentally competent enough to give consent. He was later deported.

Batz and Durliat still work for the Guadalupe Center, while Gomez, two weeks after being ordained into the ministry, was killed in a 2011 car accident outside his home in Tulsa, Okla.

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