Lawsuit Cites Hiring of Priest Accused of Sex Charges at Jackson Catholic School

Associated Press, carried in Sun Herald [Jackson MS]
Downloaded May 20, 2004

JACKSON, Miss. - The transfer of a priest to a Jackson school while he was facing allegations of sexual abuse in Wisconsin shows a continued pattern of transferring instead of removing such priests, plaintiffs say in a $36 million lawsuit filed against the Catholic Diocese of Jackson.

Documents filed with the lawsuit in Hinds County, show the Rev. Jim Stein taught classes at St. Joseph High School in Madison in 2001-2002. He left the school in April 2002.

Stein isn't accused of abusing any Mississippi children.

The Catholic Diocese said in a statement that when it learned of the allegations against Stein in April 2002, he was fired and sent back to Wisconsin. The alleged assault involved a minor and occurred in Wisconsin in 1988.

Stein is facing three charges of sexual assault in Wisconsin. He is scheduled for trial Aug. 31.

Nationally, the Catholic Church is engulfed in controversy over allegations it transferred priests accused of sexual abuse to other parishes instead of removing them.

In February, Mississippi's two dioceses reported that over the past 50 years, 14 Mississippi priests have had credible accusations of sexual abuse made against them. None of the priests is currently in active ministry, according to the dioceses of Jackson and Biloxi.

The dioceses prepared the information for a survey commissioned by the national church from the John Jay College of Justice. It was for a nationwide accounting of abuse claims and costs to the country's 195 dioceses.

The Hinds County lawsuit, which represents one side of a legal argument, was filed by two men who claim they were sexually molested in Mississippi from 1963 to 1973 by a now deceased priest.

The two men are referred to in court papers as John Doe 10 and John Doe 11. They claim the Rev. Bernard Haddican fondled and inappropriately touched them when they were young boys.

The suit is one of eight filed against the Jackson Diocese in Hinds County on the basis that the religious organization looked the other way when dealing with priests accused of sexual abuse. No trial date has been set in the lawsuit.

According to a statement from the Diocese, no one has leveled any complaints of abuse relating to Stein's tenure at St. Joe.

The eight lawsuits filed against the Jackson Diocese include about 21 plaintiffs. One of cases has been dismissed by a judge, citing the expiration on the statute of limitations.

Information from: The Clarion-Ledger


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