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Attorney criticizes OKC Catholic archdiocese for comments about priest

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Catholic priest removed from ministry in Oklahoma

Rev. James Mickus

Rev. James Mickus

The attorney for a Catholic priest suspended from ministry by the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City says he is considering filing a defamation lawsuit against the archdiocese.

"Please be advised that I represent Father James Mickus and we are investigating a claim of possible defamation as a result of a talk you gave at the church in Chandler, press statements issued under your authority ..., as well as a letter which it appears you sent to other priests in the Archdiocese," Enid attorney Stephen Jones said Monday in a letter to Archbishop Paul Coakley.

Coakley on Sunday announced the removal of Mickus as pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Chandler and Saint Louis Catholic Church in Stroud pending an investigation into an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.

Jones said the allegation against Mickus, 74, appears to be the same one that an that archdiocesan review board investigated in 2002 and found not credible.

"Father Mickus made a statement refuting the complaint and denying the allegation," while the accuser declined the opportunity to appear before the review board to support his allegation, Jones said.

Mickus was reinstated in 2003.

Jones said Mickus filed a Garfield County defamation lawsuit against his accuser after the original allegation was made, but dismissed the lawsuit after his accuser failed to file a counterclaim pressing his allegation.

Jones said the accuser later filed an Oklahoma County lawsuit against the archdiocese and Mickus, but the district court dismissed the allegations against the archdiocese and the decision was upheld on appeal. The accuser dismissed the lawsuit against Mickus in 2006.

Jones said Mickus' accuser has three felony convictions, including two for indecent exposure.

Jones also claims the accuser was not even a minor at the time he contends an incident occurred. Jones said the accuser's sister died in a tragic automobile accident and the accuser tied the incident to something that happened at the archdiocese camp the Thanksgiving after his sister's death. The accuser would have been 19 at that time, Jones said.

"The accuser had the wrong year that his sister was killed," Jones said.

Diane Clay, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, said the recent decision to once again relieve Father Mickus from his duties was "related" to the complaint several years ago.

The archdiocese and outside attorneys have been reviewing the files of priests who were the subject of sexual misconduct complaints.

"Once we complete the review we will make a public report that will answer a lot of questions people may have," Clay said.

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Catholic priest removed from ministry in Oklahoma

Randy Ellis

For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two... Read more ›