Church Abuse Hearing Set

The Associated Press, carried in Sun Herald [Mississippi]
November 4, 2004

JACKSON - The Mississippi Supreme Court will hear arguments Dec. 13 in lawsuits alleging sexual abuse in the Jackson Diocese of the Catholic Church.

Two cases, consolidated in the appeal, seeking $48 million in damages are on hold in Hinds County Circuit Court while the Supreme Court considers a motion by the diocese to have the cases dismissed.

In July, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests filed what is called a "friend of the court brief" in which SNAP, although not a party to the lawsuit, says it believes the court's decision may affect its interest.

The lawsuits were filed by Kenneth, Thomas and Francis Morrison.

The diocese argues that the separation of church and state makes the church autonomous and that certain church documents are privileged. The diocese said the Morrisons' lawsuit demands "that the diocese surrender some, if not all, of its defenses."

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

One suit was recently dismissed by a circuit judge because the statute of limitations had run out.

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


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