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Bonacci Lawsuit Called Frivolous by 2 Attorneys - Feb 8, 1991 - Omaha World-Herald

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Feb 8, 1991 Bonacci Lawsuit Called Frivolous by 2 Attorneys; [Metro Edition] Robert Dorr. Omaha World - Herald. Omaha, Neb. pg. 13

Full Text (950 words)
(Copyright 1991 Omaha World-Herald Company)

Many allegations made in a lawsuit filed by Lincoln attorney John DeCamp on behalf of Paul A. Bonacci appear frivolous, two attorneys who represent defendants said.

Bonacci, 23, who was indicted by a special Douglas County grand jury on perjury charges, claims in the lawsuit that he was abused sexually and in other ways while he was growing up in Omaha.

If DeCamp has filed the lawsuit without any effort to determine the truth of the allegations, a judge might find him in violation of Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Omaha attorneys Ed Hotz and Michael O'Brien said.

Rule 11 says an attorney's signature on a lawsuit means the attorney has determined "after reasonable inquiry it is well-grounded in fact" and is not filed for "any improper purpose such as to harass . . ."

If DeCamp didn't adhere to that standard, "we will seek sanctions," Hotz said. Sanctions can include requiring a lawyer to pay costs of the legal action and the fees of opposing attorneys.

$110 Million in Damages Sought

The lawsuit filed in federal district court in Lincoln demands that 16 defendants - individuals, public bodies, companies and non-profit institutions - pay alleged damages totaling $110 million plus an unspecified amount of punitive damages.

One defendant is the Catholic Archdiocese of Omaha. Hotz, the archdiocese attorney, said he checked into allegations involving the archdiocese.

"They are absolutely frivolous," he said. "They were made without any investigation (on DeCamp's part) that we can tell."

DeCamp, as an attorney, has a duty to try to substantiate allegations made by his client before filing a lawsuit, Hotz said.

Bonacci, who is serving a prison sentence for fondling boys, was indicted by the Franklin grand jury on three charges of lying after telling the grand jury he had been sexually abused by prominent men.

Former Omaha Police Chief Robert Wadman is another defendant. O'Brien, Wadman's attorney, said the lawsuit contains "some absurd allegations" about Wadman.

"It's one thing to make allegations and another to prove them," O'Brien said.


The lawsuit, filed Feb. 1, names these other defendants:

Lawrence E. King Jr., top executive officer of the failed Franklin Community Federal Credit Union; Peter Citron, a former World-Herald columnist and WOWT personality now serving a prison sentence for fondling two boys; Alan Baer, former owner of J.L. Brandeis & Sons Inc., indicted by the Franklin grand jury on two charges of pandering; Harold W. Andersen, retired World-Herald publisher; Michael Hoch and Kenneth Bovasso, Omaha police officers; Nebraska Psychological Associates (sic), formerly known as Nebraska Psychiatric Institute; the City of Omaha; Omaha School District; Omaha World-Herald; J.L. Brandeis & Sons Inc.; the Douglas County Franklin grand jury; Michael Flanagan, the grand jury foreman; and Samuel Van Pelt, the grand jury's special prosecutor.

The defendants are alleged to have mistreated Bonacci and deprived him of his civil rights over the last 17 years. From most defendants, the lawsuit demands $10 million each in actual damages plus unspecified punitive damages.

The lawsuit makes allegations by Bonacci against an unnamed priest at one parish in Omaha.

Hotz, the archdiocese attorney, said that parish has no record of Paul Bonacci ever being a parish member, being baptized there, receiving his first communion or attending the parish school.

Multiple Personalities

DeCamp appears to have filed the lawsuit without seeking verification with either the archdiocese or the parish, Hotz said.

"They (the allegations) are just groundless," he said.

The lawsuit alleges that the Omaha Police Department, while Wadman was chief, "established the practice of allowing prostitution for pay for certain homosexuals in the Omaha area."

Wadman's attorney, O'Brien, responded: "Show me the evidence. It is the duty of an attorney to determine a factual basis before bringing allegations."

In a letter attached to the lawsuit, a psychiatrist says Bonacci has "a multiple-personality disorder" and has 20 or more different personalities.

When Bonacci testifies at his perjury trial, it will be important to identify which of his personalities is talking, said Dr. Beverley Mead, professor in the combined Creighton University-University of Nebraska department of psychiatry.

The lawsuit says Bonacci told his Northwest High School counselors in 1986 that he "had been and was continuing to be victimized by prominent members of the Omaha community." School officials failed to take proper actions to protect Bonacci, the lawsuit alleges.

Ronald Burmood, school district student services director, said the lawsuit's allegations are incorrect.

DeCamp made similar allegations in a memo last September. The World-Herald interviewed two Northwest staff members named by DeCamp as Bonacci's counselors. Both said Bonacci didn't tell them he had been abused.

The lawsuit also makes allegations against Andersen, retired World-Herald publisher.

Schmit Statement

The grand jury cleared Andersen and said the motive for his name coming up "was probably politically generated" because of his position as World-Herald publisher.

The lawsuit includes a sworn statement from Sen. Loran Schmit of Bellwood, Neb., chairman of the former Franklin legislative committee. Schmit has often said he believes that three persons interviewed by the committee's investigator told the truth in saying they were sexually abused by prominent persons.

Two have recanted their stories. The third, Alisha Owen, was indicted by two grand juries on a combined 16 counts of perjury.

In his new statement, Schmit says he now believes Bonacci told the truth to the investigator and the Franklin committee.

DeCamp, a former state senator and a lobbyist, was criticized - but not indicted - by the Franklin grand jury for issuing a memo in early 1990 naming five persons as suspected "central figures" in a child abuse investigation. The grand jury said DeCamp issued the memo "for personal political gain and possible revenge for past actions alleged against him."

Credit: World-Herald Staff Writer

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