Archdiocese Attempting to Block Subpoenas Regarding Sex Abuse Allegations against Priest
By Kati Weis
February 19, 2015
The Archdiocese of Mobile is attempting to block subpoenas related to sexual abuse allegations, according to court documents. Reverend Johnny Savoie at St. Pius X Catholic School is being sued by four parents for allegedly failing to protect their children from claimed bullying problems.
During that lawsuit, attorneys found a statement by Father Savoie to his parish that an Archdiocese investigation found there was no evidence supporting previous claims of sexual abuse allegations involving a minor.
FOX10 wanted to find out what the archdiocese had to say about it - but so far, they refuse to comment, and their attorneys have also been putting up quite the fight in court.
It all started when four parents of former students at Saint Pius X in Mobile filed suit against Father Johnny Savoie, the school's head administrator. They claimed he didn't stop their children from being bullied, despite repeated requests for help.
"Multiple occasions (I) went in to the principal's office and was told it would be taken care of, to go ahead and go to work," said Kristen Rosson, one of the parents filing suit in the case.
Another plaintiff, April Sexton, also spoke with FOX10.
"She (my daughter) was hit, pushed, kicked, shoved, she had rocks thrown at her, she was spit at frequently. it was a daily occurrence," said Sexton.
During the discovery process of the lawsuit, Father Savoie handed over his personnel file to the plaintiffs' attorneys.
Those attorneys - David Kennedy and Christine Fernandez - found the statement written by Savoie that he read to his parish last year, according to court documents.
On February 16, 2014, Savoie told his parish he was being accused of sexual misconduct with a 16-year-old boy dating back to 2005. Savoie's statement in total reads:
"I wish to share a very serious matter with you. An accusation has been made against me that approximately nine years ago I was involved in an inappropriate sexual conduct with a 16-year-old. The accusation was reported to the Archdiocese and then communicated to me. I adamantly deny the accusation.
The Archdiocese reported the accusation to the District Attorney in accord with archdiocesan policy.
I requested to take a lie detector test. I did so and it was determined that I answered the questions with no deceit.
The Archdiocese has determined that there is no evidence to support the accusation. Therefore, I will remain serving as pastor of St. Pius X Parish. I ask for your prayers for me and for all concerned."
Savoie said the accusations claimed it was an ongoing two-year relationship with the alleged victim, when Savoie was working at St. Lawrence church in Fairhope according to court documents.
In a deposition, Savoie said the alleged victim reported the allegations to Father James Cink, who is in charge of child protection for the Archdiocese of Mobile.
Thursday, February 19, FOX10 News reached out to Archbishop Thomas Rodi and to Father Cink for a comment, but they were both unavailable, and so far have not responded to our requests.
However, in court, attorneys for the archdiocese have attempted to block at least five separate requests for further information on the allegations.
Most recently, plaintiffs attorneys requested the court grant subpoenas to both the Baldwin and Mobile County District Attorney's Offices, the Baldwin and Mobile County Department of Human Resources Offices, and the private firms contracted by the archdiocese that conducted the internal investigation, including Baldwin Legal Investigations Inc., and Poche Polygraph, LLC.
Attorneys for the archdiocese fought back - requesting the judge to bar the plaintiffs from issuing those subpoenas.
The judge in the case has asked attorneys for the archdiocese to turn over certain information about the allegations.
Meanwhile, the plaintiffs' attorneys, Kennedy and Hernandez, maintain the sexual misconduct allegations are relevant to the bullying lawsuit, because they involve the well-being of a child.
District Attorney Offices Respond
The District Attorney's Office in Mobile County has said those allegations were never reported to them. But, Thursday evening, February 19, the Baldwin County District Attorney's Office released the following statement:
"In December of 2013 and January of 2014, the Baldwin County District Attorney's Office received notification, from an attorney representing the Archdiocese of Mobile, of allegations against Father Johnny Savoie. Based upon the nature of the allegations and the ages of the individuals involved, the alleged conduct did not violate any criminal statutes."
FOX10 has reached out to all attorneys involved on both sides, but none of them are talking. Another hearing is scheduled for tomorrow morning.
Below is a timeline of court proceedings since the statement was handed over:
Timeline of Obtained Documents
Oct. 3, 2014 – Savoie deposed after discovery
Nov. 24, 2014 – Plaintiffs file Notice of Intent to serve Poche Polygraph LLC and BLI, Inc. (Baldwin Legal Investigations)
Dec. 4, 2014 – Defendants file Objection to Intent to above listed Notices of Intent
Dec. 14, 2014 – Plaintiffs file Notice of Intent to serve Baldwin and Counties D.A. offices and D.H.R. offices
Dec. 22, 2014 – Defendants file Objection to Intent to above listed Notices of Intent
Jan. 15, 2015 – Defendants file Motion for Protective Order and Motion to Strike plaintiff's Notice of Deposition of Clay J. Poche (of Poche Polygraph LLC listed above) and defendants Objection to and Motion to Quash Plaintiffs' deposition subpoena of Clay Poche
Jan. 15, 2015 – Defendants file Motion for Protective Order and Motion to Strike Plaintiffs' Notice of Deposition of Max Hansen, III and Defendants' Objection to and Motion to Quash Plaintiffs' Deposition Subpoena of Max Hansen, III
Jan. 19, 2015 – Defendants file reply in support of Motions for Protective Order of Max Hansen, III
Jan. 20, 2015- Plaintiffs file Motion to Compel the Issuance of Non-Party Subpoenas involving the following parties: Baldwin Legal Investigations, Inc., Poche polygraph, LLC, Baldwin and Mobile County D.A.'s offices, Mobile and Baldwin County D.H.R. offices
Jan. 22, 2015 – Plaintiffs file notice of videotaped deposition in reference to Max Hansen, III
Jan. 23, 2015 – Defendants file Objection of Non-Parties to Plaintiff's Notice of videotaped depositions and deposition subpoena/Duces Tecum, and Motion of Non-Parties for Protective Order
Jan. 28, 2015 – Plaintiffs again file another Motion to Compel
Feb. 2, 2015 – Court hearing on Plaintiff's Motions to Compel and Defendants Objections to do so