Sexual Abuse Suit Filed against Former Shreveport Priest

By Loresha Wilson
Shreveport Times
November 12, 2010

A federal lawsuit accuses a former Shreveport priest of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy nearly three decades ago.

The victim, now 40 years old, lives in Tennessee and claims the abuse happened at St. John Berchman's. The suit is filed against an order of the Catholic and alleges Jesuit priest Donald Dickerson sexually abused and exploited the boy in 1982, when Dickerson was the assistant pastor.

The victim, identified as Joe Doe, recalls at least four instances between the summer and fall when the priest assaulted him. Doe's family was converting to Catholicism, and Dickerson would frequent their home where the abuse occurred, the victim said.

It wasn't until February this year that it all came to memory.

"I received an e-mail from a friend I knew back then," Doe said. "We were just shooting the breeze, and he said 'whatever happened to dirty old Dickerson.' And it just brought back memories.

"I totally forgot about all that. It hit me like a ton of bricks and has been bothering me every since."

The lawsuit was filed in New Orleans this week by Texas attorney Felecia Peavy and alleges the Jesuits were aware that Dickerson was a dangerous sexual predator, but did not report him to authorities. Dickerson left St. John Berchman's in 1984. Attempts to reach Dickerson were unsuccessful. The Jesuits did not return a call to The Times on Thursday.

Bishop Michael G. Duca, with the Diocese of Shreveport, learned of the allegations Thursday. Neither the Diocese nor its Cathedral Parish has been contacted by anyone associated with the matter.

"We all feel a deep sadness whenever allegations of sexual abuse are brought forward," Duca said in a prepared statement. "Our compassion and prayers go out to all associated with this case."

Peavy represented another person in 2007 who said Dickerson sexually assaulted him as an eighth-grader at Jesuit High School in New Orleans in 1974. The Jesuits settled the case last year, Peavy said.

"All of the detail concerning the abuse and how the perpetrator approached them are all similar," the attorney said. "From perpetrator to perpetrator, they all have their own style. But when you compare the approaches, you can see the similarities from one victim to another. It shows how he pursues his victims, and we believe there are more victims who have not been revealed."

The victim seeks $12 million in damages for emotional and psychological injuries and punitive damages. Peavy says Doe needs to recover and get the help that he needs so he can heal and put this behind him.

"I just remember I was scared," the victim said. "He was in position of authority over me. He just had that kind of power. I was too scared, and I can't stop thinking about it."



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