Flock Sues Priest on Sex Abuse Charges

United Press International
June 30, 1987

A former priest at Holy Ghost Catholic Church is being sued for a third time on charges that he sexually molested one of his parishioners, court records showed Tuesday.

Milton Applewhite and his mother, Naomi A. Kency, filed two lawsuits in Hinds County Circuit Court against the Rev. Vance Zebulon Thorn. They claim Thorn molested Applewhite while he was a teenager attending the church.

Applewhite claims the assaults began when he was 14 years old and doing yard work for Thorn at the priest's home and the church. The alleged encounters occurred from 1980-1986 in the church rectory and once on a trip to New Orleans, the suit said.

The two are demanding $20 million in damages. Also named as defendants in the suit are Bishop William R. Houck, the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, the Society of the Divine Work Provence of St. Augustine to which Thorne Belongs, the Rev. Borgia Aubespin, who heads the order, and other unnamed defendants.

Applewhite charges them with negligence for permitting Thorn to lead Holy Ghost Catholic Church.

Neither Thorn nor his attorney, Samuel Wilkins of Jackson, could be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, three other sexual molestation suits are also pending against Thorn. Holy Ghost School students Frankie Lee Spann and Obadiah Thomas Herring filed the charges in Hinds County and U.S. District Court in February and March.

Thorn was indicted by a Hinds County grand jury in one of the cases and is awaiting trial. He has been suspended from his duties at the church.

Spann and his parents claim Thorn molested him when he was 9 years old. They seek $14.5 million in damages.

They also accuse Thorn of forcing Spann to "sexually act out a similar scenario" on his brother as a result of the encounter.

Meanwhile, Herring is seeking $4.5 million in damages. No trial date has been set for the case which was filed in federal court.

Thorn is set to be tried July 21 in Hinds County Circuit Court on the Applewhite's suit. A Sept. 14 trial date was set for the Spann's civil suit.


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