Thomas Euteneuer, a Roman Catholic priest who was described as a ‘rock star’ in the anti-abortion movement and the president of Human Life International, reportedly one of the nation’s largest anti-abortion groups, resigned after a woman alleged that his exorcisms to rid her of her demons were actually a series of sexual molestations. The woman has now filed a lawsuit seeking $5.35 million in damages against the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, its bishop and HLI.
When they met in 2008, Euteneuer told the woman that he thought her case was “severe” but that he was sure he could help rid her body of a “demonic infestation” of “unclean spirits,” according to a lawsuit filed in Arlington County Circuit Court.
Over the next two years, the suit alleges, Euteneuer sexually molested the woman repeatedly during purported “exorcism” sessions, often conducted in offices on the Human Life International campus, near Interstate 66 about an hour west of Washington.
What the lawsuit alleges goes well beyond the rituals prescribed by the Catholic Church.
“He kissed the corners of her mouth; stroked her legs, breasts and thighs; caressed her face; laid his body on top of hers; and frequently explained full, passionate kisses as ‘blowing the Holy Spirit into’ her,” the lawsuit alleges. Once, at a conference, the suit alleges, Euteneuer invited the woman to his hotel room to “pray over” her, then removed her clothes and assaulted her.
It is surprising that the woman did not realize sooner that the priest had intentions that went well beyond concerns about the state of her soul. But as her lawyer said, “She placed her trust in a man of faith” and we know where that often leads. Remember that the Catholic Church does have about 50 official exorcists in its ranks and it would not surprise me in the least if more of them are not abusing this trust in similar ways.