Brothers Allege Church Abuse Coverup

By Roslyn Anderson
WLBT [Jackson MS]
Downloaded May 28, 2003

Three brothers say a former Jackson priest, once considered their family's best friend, molested them for years and went unpunished by the Catholic Diocese.

The Morrisons have formed S.N.A.P., the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Tuesday they took their protests to the Catholic church.

Three siblings, former members of St. Peter the Apostle Cathedral, say the time has come for the bells to toll on the Catholic church.

Francis Morrison lived part of his childhood in Jackson, served as a scripture reader at the church and is a former president of the Catholic Christian Youth Organization.

He now lives in Dallas, Texas.

Tuesday afternoon he stood in front of St. Peter's Cathedral holding a sign that read 'We Want the Truth.'

Francis Morrison says, "We're asking for full disclosure of these things, and for some reason the church is fighting that tooth and nail."

The Morrison brothers -- Kenneth, 38; Thomas, 41; and Francis, 43 -- along with their mother, Dorothy, picketed outside the church.

The men say they were sexually abused by a priest here in the 1970s.

"We were molested for a period of about three years, give or take, here in the church and in the rectory by the then-pastor Father George Broussard," Frances Morrison said.

"It was just devastating," says younger brother Kenneth. "I was too young to make any sense of it. It happened from the age of five to nine."

The Morrisons say their family told the church about the abuse and was assured actions would be taken against the priest, but their charges were ignored.

"We know for a fact at least 22 priests have been accused of molesting children here in this diocese, and the church has not come clean about that," Francis Morrison adds.

Kenneth Morrison now lives in Chicago. The youngest son says he knew something was wrong, but says he was told by his priest that it was right and that the two had a special relationship, that the priest had with no one else.

"The bottom line is nothing was done about it," he says, "and today they're still hiding. They're still not coming forward with honesty."

While the group was still protesting along West and Amite Streets, Bishop Joseph Latino of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson returned to the rectory.

When the bishop was asked if he had any comment about the protest, he responded, ""Beautiful day, huh?"

He ignored questions from the Morrison brothers.

Kenneth Morrison shouted, "Bishop, is it morally right to do this?" but got no response.

Last June the family filed a $48 million lawsuit in Hinds County Circuit Court against the diocese and former priest George Broussard, who they say committed the acts.

Dorothy Morrison says after finding out about the abuse, she spiraled into depression and underwent counseling for feelings of guilt. She says the man she trusted most with her sons betrayed her and her now-deceased husband, causing them both to lose faith in the Catholic church.

"We're no longer Catholic," she says, "but I would think that parishioners want their church to heal. It will never heal as long as they deny, deny, deny."

The Catholic Diocese of Jackson has asked the courts to seal most records in the case.

Also named in the suit are former Bishop William Houck, who came to the diocese after the alleged abuse, and Boston Cardinal Bernard Law, who the Morrisons say they reported the acts to while he served in Jackson as Vicar General.


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