NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The Knights of Columbus denied allegations made in two lawsuits filed Dec. 14 that the fraternal organization did not address claims that a former Knight abused two men decades ago when they were young and tried to conceal the allegations.
The lawsuits claim that Juan "Julian" Rivera, a former leader of the Columbian Squires in Brownsville, Texas, abused the men in the 1970s and 1980s when they were boys. The Columbian Squires is a Knights-sponsored leadership group for boys 10-18.
The suits were filed separately by two adults now in their 40s; one lives in Texas, the other in Kansas. Each suit seeks more than $5 million in damages. They were filed by a Florida lawyer in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, where the Knights has its headquarters.
One of the alleged victims claimed he reported the abuse to Knights officials in 1986, who supposedly concealed his claim and intimidated him into not making it public.
The Knights' Dec. 14 statement said the fraternal organization learned of the allegations against Rivera "only one year ago, in December 2009."