Baton Rouge Diocese Settles Sex Abuse Claim Involving Late Bishop, Will Rename High School

Associated Press, carried in The Charleston Gazette [Baton Rouge LA]
November 11, 2004

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- The Diocese of Baton Rouge is settling a lawsuit with a man who accused a long-deceased bishop of abuse, and it is yanking the bishop's name from a high school.

The Roman Catholic diocese did not give details of the settlement involving Bishop Joseph Sullivan. But Bishop Robert Muench, who announced the deal Wednesday, said the accuser's allegations were credible.

Sullivan was bishop in Baton Rouge from 1974 until his death in 1982. The accuser, now in his 40s, said he was 17 when Sullivan sexually abused him in 1975. The man's name was not released.

Muench said Bishop Sullivan High School would get a new name, still to be determined, at the start of the next school year. The diocese will help pay for new signs and uniforms, he said.

The Baton Rouge diocese has acknowledged removing six priests over the past 15 years because of credible allegations of sexual misconduct with minors.

In September, former Springfield, Mass., Bishop Thomas Dupre became the first Roman Catholic bishop to face criminal charges in the church's abuse scandal when an indictment was unsealed accusing him of raping two boys in the 1970s. Prosecutors refused to pursue the case, however, saying the statute of limitations had expired.


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