Lawsuit: Former Cobb priest sexually abused boy during previous church assignment

Marietta Daily Journal

December 28, 2019

By Jon Gargis

A former altar boy is suing the Cobb-based Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta alleging that church officials remained silent over the sexual abuse he and others suffered over the span of several decades.

The suit filed by a man using the placeholder name “Phillip Doe” claims that he had been sexually molested by his priest, Father J. Douglas Edwards, in the 1970s. While Edwards’ long career in the archdiocese saw him last serve at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Kennesaw from 1987 to 1989, the alleged acts of molestation occurred while Edwards was the priest at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Dalton.

Edwards had a house on Lake Allatoona in Acworth, to which “he took groups of boys” from the Dalton church, the suit alleges, including the complainant, who claims to have been molested by Edwards about eight to 10 times from at least 1976 through 1978 during his service as an altar boy from about age 12 to 15.

“As a result of the sexual abuse, Plaintiff has throughout his life suffered from a variety of emotional and psychological problems including but not limited to embarrassment, shame, anger and depression. Plaintiff also experienced a loss of faith and spirituality which were bedrocks of his life prior to the abuse,” the lawsuit states.

Edwards died in 1997, the archdiocese previously announced.

The suit goes on to allege that St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, the archdiocese and its chief executive, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, have known about priests such as Edwards but “actively concealed the identities of sexual predators and allowed them to remain in unsuspecting communities, exposed to innocent children, for decades.”

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