Alleged abuse

A former Oklahoma City Catholic priest has been accused of childhood sexual abuse in a lawsuit by one of his former parishioners.

The Rev. Stephen D. Cude is named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed recently in Oklahoma County District Court. The plaintiff’s identity is not revealed in the filing.

Cude did not return phone messages or e-mails from the Oklahoma Gazette.

A “Personal Website of Stephen D. Cude” lists the former priest as an Oklahoma City resident. Cude, a senior at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in geography, according to the site.

Cude, who served in the ministry from 1969 to 1998, spent 13 years in a full-time parish ministry and 16 years in hospital ministry. This included weekend ministry for several urban and suburban churches and a part-time chaplaincy to Bishop McGuinness High School, according to the site.

A Feb. 9, 1979, article in The Oklahoman reported a priest named Stephen Cude also served as special instructor on medical ethics in the Department of Family Practice, Community Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

Shad Withers, one of the attorneys representing the alleged victim, said he could not discuss specifics when contacted by the Gazette.

“I can tell you it occurred when the plaintiff was a child; he’s a grown man now,” Withers said.

The Nov. 23 suit also names as a defendant the Oklahoma City Archdiocesan Chorale Inc. That organization is a domestic not-for-profit corporation formed in 1993, according to Oklahoma Secretary of State records.

On second reference, the petition refers to the defendant Oklahoma City Archdiocesan Chorale Inc. as the “Archdiocese,” and lays out powers such as creating, appointing, assigning and removing bishops, and stating that the entity “enforces the laws and regulations regarding the education, training, standards of conduct and discipline for its members and those who serve in the governmental, administrative, judicial, educational and pastoral workings of the Roman Catholic Church.”

The petition says the “Defendant Archdiocese has the authority, jurisdiction and sovereignty, as vested in the Pope and his delegated advisors, to direct Cude.”

However, Tish Eason, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, denied that the Archdiocese is the entity being sued, and Withers would not comment further on the defendant’s identity.

According to the suit, the victim and his family attended Saint Joseph Old Cathedral in Oklahoma City. The suit alleges the plaintiff was molested by Cude, who had been placed at the parish under the authority of the “Archdiocese.”

The suit accuses the “Archdiocese” of ignoring “reports, knowledge and signs of inappropriate activities between Defendant Cude and certain children,” as well as ignoring “commonly known information and rumors that Defendant Cude was drawn to children in an inappropriate way.”

The lawsuit also accuses the “Archdiocese” of failing to properly train employees to recognize warning signs and dangers of sexual abuse.

The lawsuit, assigned to District Judge Twyla Mason Gray, does not ask for specific monetary damages.

In January, a separate lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, along with two different church officials, was dismissed with prejudice at the request of another plaintiff in Oklahoma County District Court. That case, filed in 2003, accused another former priest of sexual abuse of an adolescent.

Clifton Adcock

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