Lawsuit: Priest molested St. Richard student. Did Catholic Church, district attorney act?

Mississippi Clarion Ledger

January 31, 2019

By Sarah Fowler

A Ridgeland man who says he was sexually abused by a priest in 2004 as a 9-year-old has filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Jackson and a local Catholic school.

The allegation was reported to the diocese in 2014, and the diocese launched an internal investigation in addition to notifying the Hinds County District Attorney’s office. District Attorney Robert Schuler Smith said this week that his office did not investigate because they were waiting on information from the diocese.

The lawsuit, filed Dec. 28 in Hinds County, only identifies the 24-year-old plaintiff as “John Doe” and the alleged abuser as “Defendant Father John Doe.”

The accused priest was never identified by the boy, the church or law enforcement.

The lawsuit names the diocese, St. Richard Catholic Church, St. Richard Catholic School, Father Mike O’Brien, Bishop Joseph Latino, former St. Richard principal Joules Michel, Bishop Joseph Kopacz, Monsignor Elvin Sunds, an unidentified priest (Father John Doe) and 10 other unidentified individuals (John Doe I-X).

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