The Washington Times-Herald

December 27, 2013

Settlement reached in Evansville Diocese rape suit

Confidential settlement includes Catholic Community of Washington

By Nate Smith
Times Herald

---- — A settlement was reached in the 2010 case of a Hispanic woman against the Evansville Catholic Diocese and others.

A confidential settlement agreement was reached in the case where Silvia Gameros alleged the diocese, employees and the Catholic Community of Washington asked her to cover up the rape of her developmentally disabled daughter in 2007.

The agreement, filed earlier this month in Daviess Circuit Court, was signed between Gameros and the diocese was confidential and claims against the diocese, the Catholic Community of Washington and employees Sister Karen Durliat, Kande Batz and Jorge Gomez were dismissed.

A default judgment was issued on Fredy Mendez-Morales, the man who pled guilty to raping Gameros' daughter during an abstinence retreat at the former St. Mary's School on Nov. 4, 2007. Mendez-Morales was ordered to pay over $1 million to Gameros and her daughter in the case, based on emotional and physical pain and suffering.

Mendez-Morales pled guilty to a rape charge in 2009 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Officials with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Mendez-Morales was then deported back to his native El Salvador in 2010 after a temporary visa expired.

The judgment said attempts were made to contact Mendez-Morales but were unsuccessful.

Gameros alleged in her original lawsuit the church tried to cover up the rape of her daughter during the retreat. During the retreat, Mendez-Morales and the girl had sex in a bathroom at the former Catholic school while others were asleep.

In the morning, Gameros was then, according to court documents, contacted by Batz and Durilat and asked to come to the school. They told her of the encounter. Gamerors alleged in her complaint the conversation included a church official suggesting the daughter take a "morning-after pill." The left and went to Jasper Memorial Hospital where a nurse called the Indiana State Police after evidence of a rape was found.

Mendez-Morales was then arrested for multiple charges of rape. He contended, according to the criminal case, that sex was consensual. The victim, now in her late twenties, is developmentally disabled and under state law, a person can be charged with rape if the other is incapable of granting consent.

During Mendez-Morales' criminal case, two psychologists told the court she was incapable of giving sexual consent due to her diminished mental state. A plea deal was made by the Daviess County Prosecutor's office and Mendez-Morales' attorney, Blake Chambers.

Attorneys for the diocese said Batz, Durliat and others denied the accusations made by Gameros. They also wrote in their argument the victim told them consent was given and the victim begged Batz not to call Gameros. They also, according to court documents, supplied assistance to Chambers during Mendez-Morales' defense.

Multiple messages were left to the attorneys involved in the case.

No officials from the Catholic Community of Washington were at the retreat, but still owned the former school property. The property was sold to Harvest Community Fellowship in 2009.

Officials with the diocese had no comment. Gomez, a seminarian at St. Meinrad Archabbey at the time, was killed in a car accident in Tulsa, Okla., in 2011. Batz and Durliat still work for the diocese's Spanish outreach ministry in Huntingburg, according to the diocese's website.

Gameros and her daughter left the area and are now living near Louisville, Ky.