DENVER (KDVR) — A man has filed a child sexual abuse lawsuit against the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and a former priest.
The victim, who is now 43 years old, says the former priest, Jerry McKenzie, abused him several times starting in 1995. He claims it began when he was 16 years old and went on for several years, and that the priest gave him alcohol and other substances as part of the abuse.
Identified in the lawsuit as John HA Doe, the victim said in part that he filed the lawsuit “because the Diocese needs to be held accountable for what happened to me and for the others that McKenzie wronged during the course of his career as a trusted and revered religious figure.”
Doe’s attorney believes there are other victims.
“Our client wanted to make it clear this isn’t just about him, and this is about everyone else that has been hurt by Reverend McKenzie,” the victim’s attorney, Jessica Arbour, said.
In the lawsuit, attorneys say McKenzie sexually abused the teenager at St. Michael and All Angels’ Episcopal Church, Camp Ilium and a cabin near Nederland.
Child sex abuse victims may lose sense of safety, feel shame
Doe’s lawsuit, lawyers say, is part of the healing. Counselors who work with victims of sex abuse say many lose their sense of safety and have a sense of shame.
“And it can feel very important to air this out so that the shame can be released so that it can decrease that sense of discomfort within themselves and their bodies,” Blue Bench clinical manager Ana Maria Martinez said.
FOX31 was not able to locate McKenzie on Friday for a response.
The lawsuit names the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado, St. Michael and All Angels’ Church and the camp near Nederland, where the abuse allegedly took place, according to the lawsuit.
FOX31 was told this case could go to trial here in Denver District Court.
The diocese said McKenzie “was forced to resign his ministry many years ago, in 2000, following allegations of sexual misconduct.” Read the diocese’s full statement here.