Lawsuit Alleging Sexual Abuse by Priest Filed against Catholic Diocese of Shreveport
July 15, 2020
SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A civil lawsuit alleging repeated sexual abuse of a minor by a priest has been filed against the Shreveport Catholic Diocese.
The lawsuit, “Paul Doe vs. the Diocese of Shreveport” accuses the late Rev. William Allison, a priest who served under the Alexandria Catholic Diocese from 1949 until his death in 1987, of sexually abusing the plaintiff during his two-year tenure at Our Lady of Fatima in Monroe, when he was an altar boy in the fifth or sixth grade.
It also accuses a person named “Henry,” who allegedly lived with the Rev. Sam Polizzi in the Catholic rectory on the campus of then Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe (now ULM), of raping him when he was in the first or second grade.
Allison served as pastor of Fatima from 1973-1975 before being transferred to Bossier City, where he served at Christ the King Catholic Church for eight years, serving mission churches at Barksdale Air Force Base, Mary Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Caplis and Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Doyline.
The lawsuit was filed in Caddo District Court because Monroe is encompassed with in the Shreveport diocese.
The allegations, however, reach back to a time long before the Catholic Diocese of Shreveport was formed on June 16, 1986. Until then, Shreveport – and Monroe – were part of the Diocese of Alexandria, later renamed the Diocese of Alexandria-Shreveport, headquartered in Alexandria.
Allison, who was transferred to St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Alexandria three years before the Shreveport diocese was created by Pope John Paul II, was never a part of the Diocese of Shreveport. He was still serving at that church at the time of his death in 1987.
In the lawsuit, Doe’s alleged rape by the college student is graphically described, as is his alleged abuse by the priest.
Doe’s attorneys describe a “grooming” period when Allison allegedly allowed Doe to do special tasks for him. and then details the escalation process as it led to the alleged sexual abuse. The suit also claims Doe went to a nun at his school named Sister Lucia and asked to resign as an altar boy, and she pulled his ear and “shamed him into staying on.”
The suit claims it was only after Doe had a “breakdown” that he started searching the internet and in July 2019, found that the Catholic Diocese of Shreveport had listed Allison as one of the Alexandria Diocese’s 19 priests accused of sexual misconduct. (No priests from the Shreveport Catholic Diocese were listed.)
When the Diocese of Alexandria released the names of the priests accused of sexual abuse of minors, Allison’s name was on that list as well as a few others who had served in the Shreveport area. The Diocese of Shreveport published the Alexandria list, and asked that anyone in the now Shreveport diocese who had been abused by any of the priests listed to come forward.
The lawsuit asks for a judgment in favor of Doe and that the Catholic Diocese of Shreveport pay Doe an amount that will ‘fully compensate him for his past and future pain and suffering,” mental anguish, past and future medical expenses, and anything else that might involve money, along with lawyers’ fees and court costs.
Doe is represented by well-known south Louisiana clergy sex abuse attorneys from the Herman, Herman & Katz L.L.C. and Shearman-Denenea L.L.C. law firms in New Orleans, and Metarie attorney Richard C. Trahant.
Allison’s 38-year tenure as a Roman Catholic priest began in 1949 with two assignments in Louisiana parishes before launching on a 18-year tour in parishes in the west and southwest in 1955.
Those years were spent in Colorado, California, Arizona and New Mexico, with a few of them as a patient at “Servants of the Paraclete,” a treatment center for “troubled priests” in Jemez Springs, N.M.
During this period of time, Allison showed up at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Flagstaff, Ariz., where the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Gallup, N.M., allowed him to work while a patient at Servants of the Paraclete.
There, and in subsequent assignments in California and Colorado churches, child sexual abuse allegations against Allison mounted.
In July 2011, a civil suit was filed accusing the priest of having abused “many children,” and by 2013, there were 12 lawsuits against the Catholic Diocese of Gallup, N.M., accusing it of protecting pedophile priests, including Allison, by assigning them to pastoral duties in small churches.
In June, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla. law firm began recruiting alleged victims of Allison during his three-year stint at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Fresno, Calif., for a class action suit against the Roman Catholic Diocese in Fresno.
That firm, Horowitz Law, said, the most recent allegation against Allison, “includes the abuse of a male minor that was reported in 2019 from abuse that occurred in 1961.”
According to that law firm, “The exact number of Allison’s victims is unknown, and continuously growing.”