Miss. Brothers Gain Help of National Group in Abuse Suit

By Emily Wagster Pettus
The Associated Press [Jackson MS]
July 29, 2004

A national group has filed legal papers to support three Mississippi brothers in their lawsuit over alleged sexual abuse in the Jackson Diocese of the Catholic Church.

Barbara Blaine of Chicago, national president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Wednesday that she hopes the group's involvement will bring attention to the case.

SNAP filed a "friend of the court brief" in which SNAP, although not a party to the lawsuit, says the court's decision may affect its interest.

Kenneth, Thomas and Francis Morrison filed the $48 million sex abuse lawsuit. A trial in Hinds County is on hold while the Supreme Court considers the diocese's motion to have the case dismissed.

The diocese argues certain church documents are privileged.

"The plaintiffs have demanded the disclosure of the names of wrongfully accused priests, of victims who have requested anonymity, and of information protected from disclosure by the seal of confession and the priest/penitent privilege," the diocese statement said.

At least seven lawsuits by alleged sexual abuse victims seeking a total of $258 million have been filed against the Jackson Diocese, according to the diocese.

The Morrisons say the Rev. George Broussard abused them in the 1970s when they were children.

Blaine said diocese leaders "want to keep the dirty hidden secrets."

"We believe that healing can only come about when the abuse is exposed," she said.


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