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Carmel priest files lawsuit in response to allegations of inappropriate conduct

In Father James DeOreo's court filing, he denies any wrongdoing and said the diocese twice investigated the accuser's claims and found them to be unsubstantiated.

CARMEL, Ind. — A Carmel priest filed a lawsuit in response to allegations of inappropriate conduct.

In March, the Diocese of Lafayette suspended Father James DeOreo after receiving allegations of inappropriate conduct with a minor. DeOreo was suspended from public ministry.

The diocese said at the time that the allegation violates the Diocesan Code of Conduct for Clergy. The diocese said the allegation was reported to Indiana Child Protective Services.

In DeOreo's court filing, he denies any wrongdoing and said the diocese twice investigated the accuser's claims and found them to be unsubstantiated and took no action. 

DeOreo's filing details some of the claims by the accuser. In those claims, the accuser said DeOreo encouraged him to fast as part of a church program and that led to an eating disorder. DeOreo contends he had no involvement in food preparation, most mealtimes, or parental supervision of the program.

In other claims, the accuser allegedly admits that there was never sexual contact with DeOreo, but that the priest had made jokes or comments that the accuser considered inappropriate or innuendo. 

DeOreo's suit contends that many of the accuser's claims came when others were around. It states the diocese found no individuals who would corroborate the accuser's version of events or interpretations of DeOreo’s conduct. 

The accuser issued a pre-suit demand of $295,000, based on expected damages of $383,000 incurred “because of Fr. DeOreo and the Diocese’s intentional and negligent acts.” 

DeOreo's suit asks for "a declaration by this Court that Defendant, [redacted by WTHR as accuser was a juvenile at the time of the alleged conduct], threatened claims of negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress are unsubstantiated and legally and factually insufficient..."

The diocese confirmed to 13News Tuesday that DeOreo is still suspended and shared a statement that read, "The diocese cannot discuss pending litigation; instead, we ask that you please join us in prayer for all those that are affected."