Catholic Church Wins Lawsuit over Confession
By Trey Schmaltz and Chris Nakamoto
February 22, 2018
A long legal battle between the Catholic Church and a woman who argued she tried to use a confession as a way to report sexual abuse against a church parishioner has ended.
In a news release announcing its pleasure with the outcome, the Diocese of Baton Rouge said it and Father Jeff Bayhi had been dismissed from the lawsuit.
The lawsuit argued a priest should have to report being told about child abuse while hearing a confession – a meeting faithful believe is an exchange between themselves and a messenger of God who can clear their sins. In most cases, state law requires people with knowledge of child sex abuse to report such crimes to authorities. Though, a September 2017 ruling by a district court judge in Baton Rouge found priests were not bound under the law.
“The religious liberties involved in the Seal of Confession are part of the fundamental teachings and doctrines of the Catholic Church,” the church said in a news release. Judge Mike Caldwell agreed when he ruled last year part of the law that would require priests to be mandatory reporters of abuse learned during "privileged conversations" was unconstitutional.
The decision signed by the court in February ends the case where Rebecca Mayeux claimed she told Bayhi about abuse she endured at the hands of church member George Charlet, Jr.
“The decision preserves the Seal and sanctity of the Confessional which the Church considers inviolable,” the church said in its statement.
Mayeux's attorney told WBRZ this afternoon his client will still go after Charlet's estate, but the case against the Catholic Church and Father Bayhi has been resolved.