- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A California psychiatrist explained to jurors how repressed memory works in the seventh day of a trial in a lawsuit against the Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic Diocese.

A former altar boy sued the diocese in 2011, saying he was sexually abused by a priest when he was a student in the 1980s at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary School. He claims the diocese was repeatedly told the priest, who died last year, was a danger to children, but failed to prevent the abuse.

The diocese said there’s no credible evidence to prove the man’s allegations and argues that claims of his repressed memories are invalid.

The Associated Press doesn’t typically name people who say they’re victims of sexual abuse.

The plaintiff said he decided to sue the group after a longtime friend called and said her daughter was possibly the victim of another priest. He had suppressed recollections that came flooding back when his friend called, San Francisco psychiatrist Walter Sipe said.

Sipe spoke for two hours Tuesday about repressed memory, which is when someone forgetting a past traumatic event for an extended period of time, The Kansas City Star reported (https://bit.ly/1rX5VDN ). He diagnosed the plaintiff with delayed onset post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

Sipe said it’s “absolutely essential” for a person to seek care after a sexual violence occurs to decrease their stress and help them talk about what happened. Treatment helps put the event into context for a victim, which helps with their memory of what happened. If no help is given to a victim after the incident occurs, there’s no way to make sense of it for them, he said.

The plaintiff testified last week that the priest warned him telling people about any abuse meant he would go to hell, be rejected by his family and the Catholic Church. Sipe said those statements would confuse a boy who had been abused.

Sipe said “there definitely is controversy” about repressed memories, but it’s not about whether it occurs. He said the debate is about whether valid recovered memories are the norm.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kcstar.com

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