Miss. High Court Refuses to Hear Priest Abuse Case

Associated Press State & Local Wire
February 24, 2005

The Mississippi Supreme Court has refused a request by the Catholic Diocese of Jackson to review what the diocese believed were conflicting judicial rulings on sex abuse cases and a judge's refusal to dismiss a lawsuit brought by two people.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Smith on Thursday signed an order declining, without comment, to hear arguments from the diocese and other defendants.

Last year, Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter ruled he would not dismiss the abuse claims of two plaintiffs against the diocese. The plaintiffs known only as John Does 6 and 7 claim they were sexually abused by Father James Kircher in the late 1970s.

DeLaughter said the church sought dismissal of the lawsuits to deny John Does 6 and 7 "the forum for a jury to even consider their grievances."

The Jackson diocese had claimed that in a matter of weeks there were two divergent rulings in different lawsuits seeking millions of dollars for alleged abuse occurring over 20 years ago.

In cases with almost identical issues, but different plaintiffs, DeLaughter and Circuit Judge Swan Yerger of Hinds County reached different conclusions, the diocese said.

Also in 2004, in a lawsuit brought by Angie Phillips against the diocese, Yerger dismissed Phillips' case because the statute of limitations was up, according to the church.

The diocese wanted the Supreme Court to appeal DeLaughter's ruling because the alleged abuse in that case also is said to have occurred more than 20 years ago - in 1977 and 1979.


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