Court Report: Appeals Court Dismisses Sex-Abuse Suit

By Lawrence Buser
Memphis Commercial Appeal
September 16, 2008

A suit filed by a Memphis man who claimed he was sexually abused as a teen by a Catholic priest was dismissed today by the Tennessee Court of Appeals which ruled the statute of limitations had passed.

The suit filed by John Doe, now 39, against the Catholic Bishop for the Diocese of Memphis alleged that the diocese was negligent in hiring the priest, Father Daniel DuPree, and in failing to disclose its knowledge that the priest had abused other boys.

The appeals court did not dispute the allegations of abuse, but agreed with the diocese that under Tennessee law the one-year statute of limitations began to run when John Doe turned 18 in February of 1987. The complaint was filed in Circuit Court here in 2006.

"Had the Diocese been asked about Father DuPree's prior offenses in 1987, we cannot know whether the diocese would have been forthcoming in response to such inquiries," wrote Judge Holly Kirby, who was joined by Judge Alan Highers on the two-judge panel. "Had Doe requested such information and been refused, 'our decision might be different.'

". . .we find that plaintiff Doe, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, would have learned in 1987 about his right of action against the Diocese for negligent supervision and retention of Father DuPree."

Doe argued that the statute of limitations should not apply because in that year he did not have "sufficient facts to bring a negligence claim against the Diocese . . . as he did not know the facts demonstrating that the Diocese was negligent."

Doe said the sexual abuse by from Father DuPree caused him severe psychological injuries, including loss of faith, mood swings, intimacy problems, emotional disconnection, anxiety, rage, and loss of enjoyment of life.

He alleged the Diocese's actions were a direct and proximate cause and asked for damages of more than $10 million.

Woman waives hearing in murder case

A 19-year-old woman waived a preliminary hearing this morning in a July murder case in which she allegedly shot her boyfriend three times and ran over him in a car as she drove off.

Ashley Blankenship was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Jimmy Ford after they argued over a car that he wanted to sell and she wanted to keep.

Witnesses said she shot Ford, 47, when he refused to get out of the car, walked around the parking lot for a moment and then got into the vehicle and ran over Ford's head as she drove away.

The incident occurred July 16 in the parking lof of Lucky's In & Out Grocery at 1168 Florida at McLemore.


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