Court ruling will allow more alleged sex abuse victims to go after Archdiocese of Atlanta

WSB-TV, ABC-2 [Atlanta GA]

March 9, 2022

A Georgia Supreme Court ruling could mean more alleged sexual abuse victims can have their day in court against the Catholic Church.

A former altar boy claims the Archdiocese of Atlanta turned a blind eye to the abuse for years.

A priest allegedly took altar boys to a lake house on Lake Allatoona in Acworth and sexually abused them in the ‘70s.

The Georgia Supreme Court decision is big because a lower court previously ruled the allegations went beyond the statute of limitations.

“All they’ve ever wanted is to have a shot. A shot at justice. And this decision, that’s exactly what it does,” said attorney Darren Penn, who represents more than a dozen people allegedly abused by the same priest.

The newly released 31-page document from the Georgia Supreme Court shows allegations of a “systematic cover up effort.”

The alleged victim — only known as Philip Doe — said Father John Douglas Edwards sexually abused him 50 years ago. Edwards died in 1997.

“Our clients, every single one of them, were altar boys at various churches,” Penn said.

In November 2018, the archbishop released bombshell documents that named more than a dozen priests accused of sexually abusing children. Edwards was on the list.

Channel 2 Action News spoke to a man allegedly abused by a different priest.

He says he reported it to the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

“It candidly made me feel like they were discounting my story,” the victim said at the time.

This week, a state Supreme Court justice ruled Philip Doe can sue the Archdiocese of Atlanta and Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church in Dalton. That’s where Edwards was a priest during the alleged abuse.

The ruling comes after a lower court previously said the allegations exceeded the statute of limitations.

The archdiocese told Channel 2′s Chris Jose that it will not comment on pending litigation.

“We’ll find out did the Archdiocese of Atlanta really know about this? When did they know about it? What did they do about it?” Penn said.

The list from the archdiocese shows Edwards was a priest at 15 different churches.

His last posting was in the late ‘80s at Saint Catherine of Siena in Kennesaw.