Diocese of Beaumont Settles Sex Abuse Suit
By Tim Monzingo
December 12, 2013
A civil suit against the Catholic Diocese of Beaumont alleging abuse by a priest against six boys in at least three parishes over three decades was settled Wednesday.
The suit, originally filed April 12, 2012, charged the diocese and Bishop Curtis J. Guillory, in his official capacity, with "negligent and grossly negligent" actions for keeping the Rev. Ronald Bollich on staff when it "knew or should have known he had a propensity to molest boys."
Tahira Merritt, a Dallas-based attorney who represented the victims, said the settlement amount was not disclosed at the plaintiffs' request.
"The last victim was abused 20 years after the first victims were abused," she said by phone Wednesday. "The diocese knew (Father Bollich) was a sexual predator."
Bollich was a priest for more than 30 years - from 1964 up until his death in April 1996. He worked parishes in Jefferson County, Orange County and Nacogdoches County, according to the final petition in the case, filed Nov. 15, 2013. His duties took him to churches in Beaumont, Bridge City, Port Arthur, Groves, Silsbee, Buna, Moral, Nacogdoches and Chireno, the petition reads.
According to the petition, five of the victims were parishioners in Nacogdoches at the time of the abuse, and one was a member of the Bridge City congregation over which the priest presided. All were minors at the time.
The suit claimed all the victims "were not only immature and unsophisticated" but two suffered from "learning differences" and one had "diminished mental capacity." Alcohol was also listed as a factor in the abuse.
The victims were between 14 and 15 years old at the time and were subject to fondling, groping and rape, according to the filing, which said they were "groomed" to be victims.
The last victim, a Bridge City resident who was abused through 1992, according to the document, was permanently handicapped as a result.
"After having been so badly abused by Bollich, (the victim's) mental status degraded to such a point that he had several nervous breakdowns," the document reads. "He has been declared disabled due to mental problems."
The suit claimed the church "continued to promote and assign Bollich, even after receiving multiple reports and warning over several decades ... about his sexual misconduct" and "conspired with (him) and others, including health care professionals and others known and unknown at this time to plaintiffs to conceal his abuse of minors."
Representatives of the Beaumont Diocese could not be reached for comment Wednesday.