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Lt. Commander Kenneth Whitwell v. Rev. Edward J. Smith

2007

Type of Case: Legal

Location (State or Country): Delaware

Civil or Criminal: civil

Form of Corroboration: confession, other claims against perpetrator

Description:

Lt. Commander Kenneth Whitwell v. Rev. Edward J. Smith was a 2007 civil case from 2007 in which Whitwell sued Rev. Edward J. Smith and Archmere Academy, the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, and Rev. Michael A. Saltarelli in response to recoverd memories of abuse that occured during his schooling at Archmere. When Kenneth Whitwell had an argument with his wife in 2000, memories of being sexually abused as a child began to emerge. In 2003, he traced his emotional problems back to incidents of rape and sodomy. Whitwell remembered that in 1982, when he was 14 years old, Edward Smith—his religion teacher at Archmere Academy, where Whitwell was a freshman—sexually abused him. After the incident, Whitwell repressed the memory of the abuse for 18 years. When he went to confront church officials, Smith allegedly admitted to the abuse in a meeting with his supervisor, Reverend James Bagnato, corroborating Whitwell's account. Smith had started teaching at Archmere after having been removed from his position as principal at St. John Neumann High School in Philadelphia, where he was also accused of child sexual abuse. The outcome of the case: “Smith defaulted. Plaintiff’s verdict for $41 million including $6 million in compensatory damages and $35 million in punitive damages against Smith only. The Court dismissed Archmere, the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington and Bishop Michael Saltarelli as defendants in the lawsuit.”

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