Jackson Woman's Suit against Catholic Diocese Rejected

Associated Press, carried in The Clarion-Ledger [Mississippi]
January 25, 2007

The Mississippi Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal of a Jackson woman who claimed the Catholic Diocese engaged in conduct to conceal her alleged abuse at the hands of two priests.

The state Court of Appeals last June ruled that the diocese did nothing to prevent Angie Phillips from discovering that she might have a lawsuit against the diocese.

Phillips appealed to the Supreme Court, which refused today without comment to take up the case.

The Appeals Court said Phillips waited too long to file the lawsuit. She claimed she was sexually abused by Priest Thomas Boyce and another priest in the 1970s. She filed the suit in July 2003.

The statute of limitations deals with the period within which a person must start a lawsuit.

Under Mississippi law, any claim that accrued before 1989 is subject to a six-year statute of limitations. Because Phillips was a minor at the time of the alleged abuse, the statute of limitations began running when she turned 21.

The Appeals Court said Phillips would have had until 1986 to file her lawsuit.

In February 2003, the Catholic Diocese of Jackson acknowledged the abuse by Boyce, who died in 2002.

A Hinds County judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2004.

Phillips had argued that it was only after psychological counseling that she became aware of how she was wronged and decided to pursue her claims.

The diocese argued Phillips was asking for an exception to the statue of limitations that did not exist. The diocese said Phillips was trying to convince the court that she was abused by a priest for five years from 13 to 18 years and didn't understand such abuse was wrong.

The decision in Phillips' case came about three months after the Jackson Diocese paid $5.1 million to 19 people who claimed they were molested by priests over three decades.

Phillips was not a party to the settlement.


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