Man to Get Hearing in Abuse Case

By Joe Gyan Jr
The Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
November 13, 2002

Seven years after claiming he had only recently recovered repressed memories of being sexually abused by a Catholic priest in the 1970s, a man identified as John Doe is going to get his day in court.

"What we would hope is to get a trial date," Jill Trahan of New Orleans, one of Doe's attorneys, said Tuesday after learning that the Louisiana Supreme Court had cleared the way for Doe's lawsuit to go to trial.

Doe sued the Rev. Gerald Prinz, the Archdiocese of New Orleans, the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, St. Gregory Barbarigo Church in Houma and St. Louis Church in neighboring Bayou Blue in 1995.

Church attorneys argued in pretrial hearings that it was too late for Doe to press his claim. Doe alleges that Prinz molested him several times in 1973 and 1978 when he was growing up in the Houma area, but that he only recovered the suppressed memories in November 1994.

Orleans Parish Civil District Judge Nadine Ramsey ruled that a psychologist's methods had met minimum legal tests when he concluded at least two of Doe's memories were authentic and had been repressed for years. The judge said the psychologist's findings could go to a future jury to accept or reject.

A three-judge panel of the state 4th Circuit Court of Appeal in New Orleans agreed with Ramsey in May by a 2-1 vote. The state Supreme Court, by a 4-3 vote without comment Friday, refused to hear the defendants' appeal.

"Legally speaking, we can't go any further with the appeal," Dwight Paulsen of New Orleans, an attorney for Prinz and the churches, said Tuesday.

Supreme Court Justices Catherine "Kitty" Kimball, Bernette Johnson, Chet Traylor and John Weimer denied the defendants' appeal. Chief Justice Pascal Calogero Jr. and Justices Jeffrey Victory and Jeannette Theriot Knoll voted to hear the appeal.

Doe alleges Prinz molested him in the St. Gregory Barbarigo Church sacristy in 1973 when he was 9 and at the St. Louis Church rectory in 1978 when he was 14, according to documents filed at the Supreme Court.

Trahan has said Prinz, who ceased working as a priest, was last known to be living in the New Orleans area in the late 1980s. His name does not appear in an archdiocesan directory of active and retired priests.

Doe, a paralegal, lives in Metairie.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.