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Case 3:17-cv-00906-AVC Document 1 Filed 06/02/17 Page 1 of 12

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT


DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT

MATTHEW STRZEPEK, )
)
Plaintiff, )
)
vs. )
)
ROMAN CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF )
SYRACUSE and FELIX COLOSIMO, )
)
Defendants. )
)

COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

Comes now Plaintiff Matthew Strzepek, by counsel, and makes his Complaint for
Damages. Plaintiff demands that this matter by tried by a jury.

PARTIES
1. Plaintiff MATTHEW STRZEPEK is a citizen of the State of California.
2. At all relevant times, Plaintiff was a minor born July 9, 1975.
3. Defendant ROMAN CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF SYRACUSE (DIOCESE) is,
and at all relevant times was, a corporation incorporated under the laws of the State of New
York and at all relevant times was a citizen of the State of New York.
4. Defendant FELIX R. COLOSIMO (COLOSIMO) is a competent adult and at
all relevant times was citizen of the State of New York.
5. At all relevant times, defendant COLOSIMO was a Roman Catholic Priest.
6. At all relevant times COLOSIMO was the agent, servant and/or employee of
defendant DIOCESE.

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JURISDICTION
7. Jurisdiction is based on diversity of citizenship pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1332.
8. The matter in controversy exceeds, exclusive of interest and costs, the sum of
$75,000.00.
9. Connecticut law applies as the rapes occurred in Connecticut.

FACTS COMMON TO ALL COUNTS


10. At all relevant times, defendant COLOSIMO remained under the direct
supervision, employ and/or control of defendant DIOCESE and engaged in the conduct alleged
herein while performing duties as a Catholic Priest as prescribed and/or anticipated by DIOCESE.
11. Defendant DIOCESE assigned defendant COLOSIMO to churches in Central
New York and at all relevant times was responsible for supervising defendant.
12. COLOSIMO worked as a parish priest in the locations to which he was assigned
by Defendant DIOCESE.
13. To Catholic children like Matthew, COLOSIMO was believed to be the closest
thing to God on Earth.
14. Catholic children like Matthew were taught to obey their priests without question.
15. In the fall of 1987, Matthew and COLOSIMO attended a conference with many
other Catholic priests and adherents in New York City.
16. Matthew and COLOSIMO stayed overnight in Connecticut during their trip to the
conference in New York City.
17. COLOSIMO had befriended Matthews family for as long as Matthew can
remember.
18. Matthew was 12-years-old in the fall of 1987.
19. In the fall of 1987, COLOSIMO anally raped Matthew in Connecticut.
20. In the fall of 1987, COLOSIMO orally raped Matthew in Connecticut.
21. In the fall of 1987, COLOSIMO performed oral sex on Matthew in Connecticut.
22. COLOSIMO sexually abused Matthew until sometime in 1990.

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23. COLOSIMO also sexually abused John Doe.


24. COLOSIMO would often sexually abuse John Doe and Matthew at the same time.
25. John Doe thereafter committed suicide.
26. COLOSIMO videotaped many interactions with Matthew and John Doe.
27. In late 2013, Matthew notified the DIOCESE in writing that he had been sexually
abused by COLOSIMO.
28. In July 2014, the DIOCESE found Matthews claims against COLOSIMO to be
credible.
29. Matthew was also sexually abused by then Deacon, soon to be priest Robert Ours.
30. In 2014, Robert Ours pled guilty to possession of child pornography while living
in a house owned by the DIOCESE.
31. The DIOCESE never investigated Matthews allegations against Priest Robert
Ours.
32. In March 2016, the DIOCESE agreed to pay for Matthews counseling as a result
of his abuse by COLOSIMO.
33. In March 2016, the DIOCESE offered to pay for six counseling sessions for
Matthew.
34. In exchange for the DIOCESE paying for counseling, the DIOCESE required that
Matthews counselor turn over all treatment notes and records to the DIOCESE.
35. The DIOCESE uses the counseling notes from victims like Matthew to gain
insight into what other potential legal liabilities it may be facing.
36. The DIOCESE told Matthew that COLOSIMO would no longer be a Catholic
Priest.
37. Matthew gave a video recording of him and John Doe shirtless in bed to the
DIOCESE in Los Angeles, California in 2014.

38. Upon information and belief, the DIOCESE has not turned this video recording
over to law enforcement.

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39. The whereabouts of the video recording Matthew gave the DIOCESE are not
known at the time of filing.
40. As of the date of this filing, COLOSIMO is still an active priest performing
weddings, funerals, and occasional masses for the DIOCESE.

CAUSES OF ACTION
COUNT I: ASSAULT
(Against COLOSIMO and DIOCESE)
41. Plaintiff re-alleges and incorporates by reference the foregoing paragraphs as if
fully set forth herein.
42. By virtue of the relationship between DIOCESE, COLOSIMO and
plaintiff/plaintiffs parents, defendants owed a duty of care to avoid causing harm to plaintiff
while he was entrusted to their care.
43. At all relevant times, defendant DIOCESE knew that, as a parish priest, defendant
COLOSIMO would be interacting with children in the churches to which he was assigned and
providing various pastoral services to them.
44. At the time of Matthews abuse in Connecticut, in the fall of 1987, the general
risk of harm or injuries of the type suffered by the plaintiff was foreseeable by the defendants
under the circumstances herein set forth.
45. Following the rapes in 1987, COLOSIMO continued to sexually abused and/or
exploited the then-minor plaintiff, Matthew Strzepek until sometime in 1990.
46. Matthew was abused at various locations across the Northeastern United States,
including in the State of Connecticut.
47. The abuse occurred on trips promoted, planned, sponsored, and/or paid for by
defendant DIOCESE and occurred in hotels and motels in the States of Connecticut,
Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
48. Due to the circumstances of the abuse (perpetrated by a man of the cloth while
under the authority of the Church) and the mental trauma incurred by those circumstances,
Plaintiff could not reasonably appreciate that he had been harmed by Defendants conduct due
to, inter alia, the escape mechanism of dissociation, until within the year preceding the filing of

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this Complaint.
49. As a result of the abuse, Plaintiff suffered injuries of a serious and permanent
nature, in the form of both physical injuries and severe emotional injuries, including but not
limited to, panic attacks, emotional distress, anxiety, frustration, disassociation, post-traumatic
stress disorder, and permanent psychological scarring, which injuries were exacerbated and
intensified by lack of timely treatment.
50. As a result of the abuse, Plaintiff incurred medical bills for his care and treatment,
and he may continue to incur additional expense in the future.
51. In addition, Matthew, who was baptized and confirmed Roman Catholic, has
suffered an emotional and spiritual loss.
52. The injuries and damages Matthew sustained were the result of the acts and
intentions of defendant COLOSIMO, in that he sexually abused and sexually exploited the
plaintiff while he was a minor.
53. The aforementioned conduct and acts occurred while defendant COLOSIMO was
acting as a priest supervising and chaperoning minors in his capacity as a priest under the
auspices of defendant DIOCESE.
54. The aforementioned conduct and acts occurred while defendant COLOSIMO was
acting as a priest supervising and chaperoning minors who were his parishioners, cloaking his
conduct with and through the sacraments of the church, all of which were in the scope of his
employment for which defendant DIOCESE is vicariously liable.

COUNT II: NEGLIGENCE


(Against Defendants COLOSIMO and DIOCESE)
55. Plaintiff re-alleges and incorporates by reference the foregoing paragraphs as if
fully set forth herein.
56. Defendant DIOCESE owed a duty of care to its parishioners to conduct its
operations in a reasonably safe and prudent manner.
57. In employing and/or retaining individuals to minister to parishioners, DIOCESE
owed a duty of care to employ, retain, train, supervise and/or monitor said individuals with due

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care for the protection of the parishioners and their children.


58. When entrusted with the care of minor children invited and/or encouraged to
participate in retreats or other church-related activities (particularly those conducted off Church
premises), DIOCESE owed a duty of care to protect said children from foreseeable risks of
harm.
59. When entrusted with the care of minor children engaging in unsupervised
activities with minor children, defendant COLOSIMO owed a duty of care to conduct himself in
a manner which would not impose harm upon the child.
60. The DIOCESE breached its duties in the following non-exhaustive ways:
a. by employing and/or retaining COLOSIMO in a position of authority over
minor children without adequately assessing his suitability to be in
unsupervised, direct contact with minor children;
b. by retaining COLOSIMO despite actual or constructive knowledge of his
propensity to engage in harmful conduct with minors;
c. by failing to promulgate policies and rules proscribing priests from bringing
children to private rooms, private places, and/or hotels/motels;
d. by failing to promulgate policies and rules with respect to reporting
inappropriate conduct with minors;
e. by allowing and/or encouraging defendant COLOSIMO to supervise, oversee,
and/or chaperone minor parishioners unsupervised when it knew or should
have known that defendant COLOSIMO had a propensity to sexually abuse
such minors;
f. by failing to take appropriate protective measures for the safety of minor
children entrusted to the care of COLOSIMO (e.g., encouraging parents to
participate in out-of-town excursions, warning of circumstances by which the
child may be alone and supervised by COLOSIMO or other agnets of the
DIOCESE);
g. in that it failed to properly and adequately investigate and supervise defendant

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COLOSIMO in order to prevent such sexual abuse and sexual exploitation


from occurring, when it knew or should have known that since the inception
of the DIOCESE, some of its priests have sexually abused children;
h. by failing to warn Plaintiff and/or his parents of defendant COLOSIMOs
propensities to engage in inappropriate conduct with minors;
i. by failing to take adequate preventative measures against foreseeable sexual
exploitation of minors despite knowledge that priests in the DIOCESE were
abusing minors;
j. by failing to establish, maintain, and enforce a policy of reporting,
investigating, and removing members of the clergy engaged in sexual
misconduct;
k. by discouraging the dissemination of potentially disparaging information
regarding incidents of sexual misconduct by priests against minors;
l. by failing to adequately seek out victims of such sexual abuse in order to
render assistance and prevent or reduce further damage to untreated victims,
like Plaintiff; and/or
m. by failing to promulgate and enforce policies and procedures for the detection
of potential child abuse (such as the frequency with which defendant
COLOSIMO selectively interacted with Plaintiff, monitoring activities of its
priests, enforcing rules prohibiting clergy from having children in private
rooms and places unsupervised, etc.).
61. COLOSIMO breached his duty of care towards Plaintiff by engaging in
inappropriate conduct with the vulnerable minor who was under his care and/or influence.
62. The breaches of duties by both the DIOCESE and COLOSIMO were deliberate
and/or reckless, as exemplified by the fact that the DIOCESE and COLOSIMO colluded to
cover up COLOSIMOs sexual abuse of Plaintiff.
63. By reason of the foregoing, Plaintiff was injured in health, strength, and activity,
incurring special and general damages.

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COUNT III: BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY


(Against Defendants COLOSIMO and DIOCESE)
64. Plaintiff re-alleges and incorporates by reference the foregoing paragraphs as if
fully set forth herein.
65. Plaintiff was raised Catholic, observing Catholic tradition, attending mass, and
observing all the traditional Catholic holidays and traditions.
66. Plaintiff was raised to put faith in his church, its clergy, and priests, and did in
fact place trust in defendants COLOSIMO and DIOCESE for his moral and spiritual welfare.
67. Plaintiff received sacraments of the Catholic Church.
68. Plaintiff learned in school and in Church that, as a good Catholic, he was to
adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church, follow the mandates and guidance of defendant
DIOCESE and its bishop, and hold its clergy, priests, and bishops in the highest regard.
69. Plaintiff put his faith in and trusted defendant DIOCESE and its churches, clergy,
and priests to guide him in all matters of Catholic faith.
70. At church, Plaintiff developed a close relationship with defendant COLOSIMO
and other members of the church community.
71. Defendant COLOSIMO fostered a close relationship with Plaintiff by which
COLOSIMO would spend inordinate time with him.
72. Defendant DIOCESE encouraged its priests and clergy to develop trusting
relationships with its parishioners and their children and to provide them with spiritual guidance
and instruction.
73. As a result, a unique degree of trust and confidence was created by Defendants
with Plaintiff.
74. Defendant DIOCESE was in a superior position to evaluate, assess, and protect
Plaintiffs safe participation in church and religious activities, thereby triggering the duty to
protect plaintiff from foreseeable harm perpetrated by the DIOCESEs agents and employees
while plaintiff was entrusted to defendants care.

75. As a result, a unique degree of trust and confidence developed between defendant

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DIOCESE and Plaintiff, as Plaintiff was taught to respect and defer, and did so defer, to the
authority of its clergy and priests.
76. Plaintiff relied upon and trusted defendant DIOCESEs superior position,
knowledge, expertise and skill and was justified in doing so.
77. Defendant DIOCESE stood in a fiduciary relationship with Plaintiff.
78. The injuries set forth herein suffered by Plaintiff are the proximate result of
defendant DIOCESEs breach of duty arising out of its fiduciary and confidential relationship
with plaintiff in one or more of the following ways:
a. in that it failed to adequately evaluate the mental fitness of defendant
COLOSIMO to serve in his capacity as a priest with its related responsibilities
to parishioners and others;
b. in that it failed to periodically evaluate the mental fitness of defendant
COLOSIMO to continue to serve in his capacity as a priest;
c. in that it failed to adequately supervise defendant COLOSIMO in his
interaction and conduct towards parishioners and, in particular, minor
children;
d. in that it failed to provide training and/or educational programs to defendant
COLOSIMO to inform him of proper conduct toward parishioners;
e. in that it induced the Catholic Faithful to entrust their childrens moral and
spiritual well-being and safety to its priests and then failed to protect these
children, including the minor plaintiff, from sexual abuse by agents, servants
or employees of defendant DIOCESE including defendant COLOSIMO; and
f. in that it failed to police activities of its priests and, in particular, defendant
COLOSIMO, including its failure to provide or enforce a prohibition on
clergy being unchaperoned with minor parishioners.

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COUNT IV:
(Against Defendant DIOCESE)
FRAUD
79. Plaintiff re-alleges and incorporates by reference the foregoing paragraphs as if fully
set forth herein.
80. In stating that it found plaintiffs claims to be credible, promising to pay for
counseling upon plaintiffs release of his counseling records, and falsely representing to plaintiff
that COLOSIMO would no longer be a Catholic priest, DIOCESE intended to induce plaintiff to
believe that it cared about his well-being and wanted to rectify the damage done to him by
COLOSIMO. It also intended to induce plaintiff to relinquish to it his physical proof of his
sexual abuse, the recording.
81. Plaintiff was ignorant of the true facts, which were that COLOSIMO was still a priest
and that DIOCESE intended to destroy or otherwise conceal plaintiffs evidence to protect itself
from plaintiffs claims herein.
82. Plaintiff reasonably relied upon DIOCESEs indication of intent to help him rather
than hurt him, in that it had provided him some counseling.
83. Plaintiff was injured by the fraud perpetrated by DIOCESE; defendant betrayed his
trust, destroyed or concealed his evidence, and maintained COLOSIMO in its employ/service
conveying thereby a denial of plaintiffs injuries sustained as a result of COLOSIMOs abuse.
84. As a legal result of the foregoing, Plaintiff endured emotional pain and suffering,
such as angst, frustration, depression, and worry, as well as deprivation of important proof of his
claims, all to plaintiffs special and general damages.
85. As a legal result of the foregoing, plaintiff claims punitive damages, as hereinbefore
alleged.

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PRAYER FOR RELIEF


WHEREFORE Plaintiff prays for judgment against Defendants, and each of them, as
follows:
1. For general damages in the minimum amount of $25,000,000.00 for his pain,
suffering, personal injuries and humiliation according to proof at time of trial;
2. For special damages, including but not limited to past and future medical
expenses, past and future lost wages and loss of earning capacity
3. Punitive and/or exemplary damages;
4. For costs of suit incurred herein; and
5. For such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.

Respectfully submitted,

S/ Ryan K. Miller, Esq.


Local Counsel:
Ryan Miller (CT Bar #ct29589)
Rosenberg, Miller, Hite, & Morilla, LLC.
2051 Main Street
Stratford, CT 06615
203-870-6700
ryanmiller@rmhmlaw.com

Lauren A. Cerri (CT Bar #ct482568)


Robert Allard (Pro- Hac pending)
Corsiglia, McMahon, & Allard, LLP
96. N. 3rd Street #620
San Jose, CA 95112
(408) 289- 1417
lcerri@cmalaw.net
rallard@cmlaw.net

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Jonathan Little (Pro-Hac pending)


Jessica Wegg (Pro- Hac pending)
Saeed and Little, LLP
1433 N. Meridian Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
(317) 721-9214
jon@sllawfirm.com
Jessica@sllawfirm.com

Steve Estey (Pro-Hac pending)


Estey and Bomberger, LLP
2869 India Street
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 873-4498
steve@estey-bomberger.com

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