ENID, Okla. — The attorney representing the Rev. James Mickus, a Catholic priest with Enid ties facing allegations of sexual abuse, said he might soon file a defamation lawsuit against the archbishop of the Oklahoma City Archdiocese.

In a letter to Archbishop Rev. Paul Coakley, Enid-based attorney Stephen Jones wrote he is investigating whether Coakley has defamed Mickus by omitting critical facts about the allegations made against his client.

Allegations of abuse first surfaced against Mickus in 2002, while he was a pastor at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Enid. The accuser said Mickus had sexually abused him nearly 20 years earlier in a former parish. Mickus subsequently was removed from ministry while an archdiocese review board investigated the claims.

Mickus was reinstated in 2003 after the review board found insufficient evidence to support the claims made against him.

In a statement released Sunday, Coakley announced allegations of sexual abuse of a minor are under review and that Mickus would be removed from ministry pending investigation.

Jones wrote that Coakley appeared Sunday before parishioners at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Chandler, where Mickus currently had been serving.

In the letter, Jones wrote to Coakley that he "grievously omitted certain important facts, and their omission creates a totally false picture of the reasons you are doing what you are doing."

"Your failure to give the full background of these facts which are clearly established and which the Archdiocese has knowledge are very troubling, unfair and may be defamatory," Jones wrote. "Therefore, the possibility of litigation is present."

Jones wrote that several omissions also presentare  in press statements released by the archdiocese, and in a letter "it appears" that Coakley sent out to other priests in the archdiocese.

Jones lists 11 points he said Coakley omitted, including that the allegations under review were made well over a decade ago and that a review board had previously determined there was too little evidence to support the allegations.

In the letter, Jones wrote there is no new evidence to justify another investigation.

"It appears that you have inflicted ... a grievous wound, not only on Father Mickus, but on the clergy as a whole ... by creating the false impression that these are new allegations, or that they are old allegations with new facts when in fact, neither is true."

Jones wrote that Mickus is in the process of retaining a Canon lawyer, and requests that Coakley "cease further statements that are incomplete and half-truth concerning Father Mickus." 

At the end of the letter, Jones asked Coakley to see to it that Mickus continues to receive his full salary and benefits as a priest, and that "no retaliation be taken against him for defending his rights, either in civil law or in Canon law."

The Oklahoma City Archdiocese declined to comment on the letter.

"Once we complete the review, we will make a public report that will answer a lot of questions people may have," Archdiocese communications director Diane Clay said.

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Willetts is education reporter for the Enid News & Eagle. He can be reached at mwilletts@enidnews.com.

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