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Man files suit against church, former priest, archdiocese – alleges molestation

The lawsuit is possible because of a new law that waives the statute of limitations for victims of sex assaults going back to 1960 – man claims abuse from 1999-2003.

COLORADO, USA — A man who alleges he was sexually molested by a priest two decades ago filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit Thursday against the Archdiocese of Denver, a parish in Fort Collins and a disgraced former clergyman.

Scott Verti, 38, said he was an altar boy at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Fort Collins when Father Timothy Evans was assigned there in the late 1990s.

Evans was convicted in 2007 of molesting boys at the Fort Collins church and at a parish in Arvada. A judge sentenced him to 14 years to life in prison, and after admitting his crimes he was released on parole in July 2020.

“This guy was a machine at manipulating kids – and just utilizing his position of power to really do whatever he wanted with all the victims,” Verti said during a press conference announcing the filing of the suit.

The suit named the Archdiocese of Denver, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and Evans.

It was the first such legal action taken against the Catholic Church in Colorado since a new law took effect Jan. 1. That law opened a three-year window – through 2025 – during which alleged victims can file lawsuits for sexual assaults that occurred as far back as 1960.

Kelly Clark, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Denver, said the suit had not been served and said she would not comment on pending litigation.

Evans is living in Colorado, but attempts to reach him to see if he would comment were not successful.

The suit seeks damages in excess of $100,000, plus attorney’s fees and costs. It alleges that Evans sexually molested Verti more than 100 times between 1999 and 2003 when he was a teenager.

Verti said he never reported the allegations but that what happened to him has had a profound impact on his life.

“As a kid, I was diagnosed with chronic insomnia right away,” he said. “I actually started wetting the bed again as a teenager because of the night terrors. So right away, the manifestations were significant. And then as I grew older… I turned to drugs and alcohol because that was the only way to kind of numb my feelings in an allow for, like, just a way to get through the day.

“But it also had a significant impact on my relationships, whether that was romantic or friendly. I was never really able to have like a deep relationship with friends, with girls. It just – I had no ability to trust anybody.”

Evans was the subject of troubling allegations as far back as his time in the seminary. According to a 2019 report by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, Evans was sent home two years before completing his studies amid reports that he was “too forceful in establishing friendships” and that he “tends to ‘move in’ on new men, threatening them and making them feel guilty if they do not respond as Tim wants them to respond.”

Evans later was allowed to complete his studies.

Investigators working on that report also found “strong evidence” in Evans’ church files that “the Denver Archdiocese knew about and failed to investigate serious and recurring personal relationship, boundary, and sexual issues that indicated he may engage in sexual misconduct with children.”

According to that report and a follow-up to it released in 2020, investigators working for the Attorney General’s Office concluded that at least 52 Catholic priests sexually molested at least 212 children in Colorado since 1950 – and that for decades church leaders enabled it.

The Archdiocese of Denver paid out more than $6 million in settlements to victims identified in those reports.

Verti said he hopes that coming forward might spur other victims to do the same. And he said the new law, and the suit, gave him a chance to “right a regret that I always had as an adult” – that he didn’t report what he said happened to him years ago.

“I didn't think I'd have the chance to come forward and hold the church accountable to this,” he said.

He credited the work of his attorneys.

“I finally feel insulated, for once,” he said. “Like, I don't feel alone. I don't feel like I have to take on this behemoth of the Catholic Church by myself.”

“I'm coming forward to share my story of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of a priest when I was a child. The abuse lasted for over three years and there were over 100 different times that this man physically and sexually assaulted me. The abuse I endured has had a profound and lasting impact on my life. And it has taken me a long time to come to terms with what happened."

Contact 9Wants to Know investigator Kevin Vaughan with tips about this or any story: kevin.vaughan@9news.com or 303-871-1862.

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