PAXIL: Catholic Priest Commits Suicide: IN Lawsuit

Paragraph three reads:  “Father Rick Tucker, who took Paxil because he was upset about the way his parish ignored a child abuse scandal, may have committed suicide because of side effects from the drug and not the stress from the cover-up, a federal judge ruled. Judge David H. Hamilton of Indiana’s federal court found that Tucker’s sister Debra could sue GSK over the death of her brother, who shot himself to death in September 2002.”

Glaxo, Paxil and the Catholic Church Sex Abuse Cover-up: Drug Implicated in Suicide of Priest

By Jim Edwards | Apr 7, 2010

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which was already the focus of controversy over whether it ignored thesuicide risk of its antidepressant Paxil, has found itself linked to the Catholic Church’s cover-up of child abuse in the death of a priest who took the drug.

The case seems bound to become a further PR headache for GSK, which in 2008 was accused of obscuring the suicide risk of Paxil in studies for 15 years.

Father Rick Tucker, who took Paxil because he was upset about the way his parish ignored a child abuse scandal, may have committed suicide because of side effects from the drug and not the stress from the cover-up, a federal judge ruled. Judge David H. Hamilton of Indiana’s federal court found that Tucker’s sister Debra could sue GSK over the death of her brother, who shot himself to death inSeptember 2002.

The Tucker case stems from 1966, when Debra Tucker was 10 years old and attended the St. Lawrence Parish church in the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana. At the same time, Rick attended St. Mary’s Seminary in the same parish. Between 1966 and 1968, Debra was raped two to four times a month by St. Lawrence’s children’s choir instruction, a lay employee of the church, she alleges. In1968, Tucker had an abortion at the abuser’s behest, and then her family  including Rick, who had no idea what was going on  moved house and the abuse stopped. Debra remained in the area and over the years the abuser painted her house and attended the funerals of both her parents, she alleges.

In July 2000, after Debra discovered that the abuser had also allegedly assaulted his own children, she attended a meeting with Father Tucker, St. Lawrence’s Monsignor Robert Sell and other church officials. She claims that Sell and the church agreed to ensure that the abuser had no further contact with children in the parish and in return she would not sue the church.

After learning that Sell and the church allegedly did nothing about the man, Debra Tucker sued for breach of contract in a separate case not involving GSK.

The parish dragged its feet over the lawsuit, and as Father Tucker waited for word over whether his employers would settle his sister’s case, he became increasingly anxious. He was also worried about an upcoming audit by the diocese because, the judge wrote, he had “advanced himself some monies” and the Church would discover these “irregularities.”

However, his anxieties were misplaced: the audit did not uncover any irregularities in Father Tucker’s bookkeeping, the ruling says. The Tucker family’s lawyer said that the amounts involved were in the $50 range  and thus proof that Father Tucker’s anxiety was a product of the drug and not the situation he was in.

After taking Paxil, Tucker went into a sudden depressive tailspin. His diary for Aug. 30, 2002, just two days after he was prescribed the pill, says:

“Things have gotten behind and I do not know how to catch up. I want to live, but I want out of the pain. I feel like I am in an ocean and I can’t swim to the top for air. . . . I can see no way out of it. I know that if I follow through with the thoughts that come to my mind, there will be people hurt. … Debra I am sorry.”

Father Tucker killed himself on Sept. 18.

Debra Tucker alleges in her complaint against GSK that the company knew as early as 1990 thatPaxil potentially had an increased risk of suicide, and that the company failed to warn patients of the risk of akathisia, psychosis or violent self harm. Akathisia is a profound state of anxiety in which patients, unable to rest, believe they are doomed.

GSK had asked the judge to summarily dismiss the case based because the expert witnesses who testified that Father Tucker’s death was triggered by the Paxil and not the other stresses in his life were inadequate. The judge ruled there was a case to answer.

GSK and Msgr. Sell did not immediately respond to emails and a voicemail requesting comment. I’ve decided not to name the alleged abuser  although his name is published in Debra Tucker’s complaint against the church because I could not reach him for comment.

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Understanding Paxil Birth Defects

Ann Blake-Tracy says:

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After two decades of tracking mothers and babies exposed to SSRI
antidepressants during pregnancy I shutter to ever see a mother take one of
these drugs. If those adverse effects listed in this article are not bad enough
to consider exposing a baby to, we have yet to witness the full effects of these
drugs upon offspring. These babies brains will not be fully developed until they
are in their 20’s. The full negative effects upon that developing brain will not
be known until then. Knowing what I know after 20 years of researching these
drugs and tracking patients who have taken them, I DO NOT WANT TO SEE WHAT IS

Ann Blake-Tracy, Executive Director,
International Coalition for Drug
Awareness &

Understanding Paxil Birth Defects

In December 2005, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) posted its Paxil findings on its
website regarding pregnant women taking antidepressants. In this announcement,
GSK noted that it was revising its pregnancy precaution category from C to D.
This revision was based on recent studies that indicated positive evidence of
human fetal risk. In addition, GSK was placing this information in the WARNINGS
section of the Paxil label.
The FDA then advised pregnant women to switch from Paxil to another SSRI
drug, such as Prozac or Zoloft. This warning was based on the results of an
analysis of Sweden’s birth registry that showed women who took Paxil were 1.5 to
2 times more likely to give birth to a baby with heart defects than women who
took other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or no antidepressant
at all.
Studies also showed that complications were reported for babies born to
mothers who had taken antidepressants such as Paxil in the third month of
pregnancy. Such complications included breathing difficulties, turning blue,
seizures, changing body temperature, feeding problems, vomiting, low blood
sugar, stiffness, tremor, irritability or constant crying. In other words, just
like adults, newborn babies of mothers who have taken Paxil while pregnant,
experience similar withdrawal symptoms. Because of this, tube feeding, help with
breathing and longer hospitalization may be needed. Premature births in pregnant
women exposed to SSRIs such as Paxil have also been reported.
Based on such reports obstetricians went so far as to recommend that
women avoid Paxil and reconsider using any SSRI antidepressant during pregnancy.
Still, other physicians maintain that the benefits of mothers getting treatment
for their depression outweigh the risks to the fetus.
The most common birth defects caused by antidepressants have been found
to be holes or other malformations in the chambers of the heart. Often the

defects heal on their own, but more severe cases need surgical procedures. GSK
is investigating how Paxil could be causing such defects.
In addition, antidepressant drugs are known to imbalance blood sugar
metabolism thereby worsening gestational diabetes. However, it is doubtful that
this is explained to expectant mothers who are given such drugs.
Medical professionals in women’s mental health point out that it is
important to aptly gauge the timing of medications prescribed for women who are
pregnant. Paxil is currently one of the most popular antidepressants in the
world, and roughly 25 percent of its users are women of childbearing age —
between 18 and 45.

Nick Johnson serves as lead counsel with Johnson Law Group, with principal
offices located in Houston, Texas. Johnson represents plaintiffs with injury
cases involving Defective Drugs. Contact Nick Johnson at 1-888-311-5522 or visit

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