Ex-Altar Boys Sue Diocese
Men Allege Molestation by Then-Priest Springer in '70s
By Adrian Angelette
The Advocate [Baton Rouge LA]
October 27, 2006
Three former altar boys sued the Diocese of Baton Rouge on Thursday, claiming they were molested by a priest in the 1970s.
All three men, along with 11 others who have previously filed suit against the diocese, claim they were molested by former priest Christopher Springer. The diocese has settled lawsuits with six of the former altar boys.
"It's the same pattern over and over and over again," said Felecia Peavy, the Houston-based attorney handling the cases for the 14 altar boys. "The number of allegations continues to grow, and I don't know if we will ever know how many victims are out there."
In the latest lawsuit against the diocese and Springer, two of the three plaintiffs claim they were molested at the church rectory in New Roads.
One of them, who now lives in Baton Rouge, was a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Maringouin when he was abused in 1975, and the other was a member of St. Mary's of False River Catholic Church when he was molested in 1975 and 1976, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in state district court in Baton Rouge.
The third altar boy, now living in Ocala, Fla., claims he was abused from 1978 through 1981 at the rectory of his church, St. Pius X Catholic Church in Baton Rouge.
As with most of the previous cases, the names of the former altar boys aren't listed in the new lawsuit.
Peavy said negotiations are ongoing in all of the unresolved cases, including the three new ones.
The Very Rev. John Carville, vicar general for the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge, and diocesan attorney Charles Cusimano could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Carville has said in the past that Springer was one of six priests removed from the diocese after allegations were made that he had molested boys. Carville also has said the diocese was unaware of the allegations against Springer until 1985. Then-Bishop Stanley Ott quickly dismissed Springer from the diocese, he said.
Cusimano has said it is difficult to comment on the cases as they are filed because the lawsuits include the places and times of the alleged abuse but not the names of the victims.
As the diocese learns the names and looks into the allegations, it offers counseling and other assistance to those whose complaints have merit. Cusimano has said there are no claims against any priest currently working for the diocese.
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