Lawsuit against Diocese of Shreveport claims priest sexually abused boy in the '70s

By Emily Enfinger
Shreveport Times
July 19, 2020

The Rev. William G. Allison talks about his days in Hollywood and his later decision to become a priest in an article of The Shreveport Times on Jan. 16, 1983.

[with video]

A lawsuit was recently filed against the Diocese of Shreveport seeking damages on claims of sexual abuse that occurred in the 1970s of a then child among other accusations.

The plaintiff is identified on the court document under the alias of “Paul Doe” because he is a sexual assault victim. 

John Denenea, one of the attorneys representing Paul Doe in the lawsuit, told The Times that the client’s intent in filing the suit “is not to get a quick settlement,” but rather to obtain the truth and to pursue acknowledgment and recognition of the injuries he sustained.

The plaintiff is being represented by attorneys Soren E. Gisleson and Joseph E. “Jed” Cain of Herman, Herman & Katz law firm; Denenea of Shearman-Denenea law firm; and Richard Trahant of Trahant Law Office. The attorneys have been named in articles by as representatives of similarly-natured cases in the New Orleans area.

The Times contacted the Diocese of Shreveport for a comment or response to the lawsuit. In an email, the Diocese’s Communications and Public Relations Director, Mark Willcox, said he was working on getting a response to The Times as soon as possible but a response concerning the lawsuit was not received as of Saturday at noon.

Sexual abuse

The court document describes the plaintiff as being an obedient child and devout Catholic in the mid-1970s who adhered to rules and authority, and who respected, trusted, and admired the authority of the Catholic Church and its representatives. 

The 18-page petition also names and accuses two men of inflicting sexual abuse on the plaintiff. 

The first being a man named “Henry.” No last name was provided but he was described in the document as being a tall, thin college student at Northeast Louisiana University (now ULM) who lived with Father Sam Polizzi in the rectory on the NLU campus in or around 1971 or 1972.

“Father Sam was good friends with Paul’s father, and by virtue of that friendship, Paul’s parents trusted Henry. When Paul was in second or third grade, his parents trusted Henry enough to let Paul spend the night with Henry at the rectory,” the court document read. 

The document then, in a brief narrative, said Paul was sodomized in Henry’s room. 

“And although Paul saw Henry after the rape, Henry never mentioned or alluded to the assault,” the court document read. 

The second man accused is the late Rev. William G. Allison, who died in 1986. 

From 1973 to 1975, Allison was assigned to Our Lady of Fatima in Monroe. During his time here, Paul was a fifth- or sixth-grade student who was serving as an altar boy at Our Lady of Fatima.

The court document explains a “grooming” process which progressed into fondling and oral sex. 

After Paul expressed to a woman identified as “Sister Lucia” that he no longer wanted to be an altar boy, in an attempt to get away from Allison and his sexual assaults, the abuse by Allison stopped and “Allison then began to act like Paul did not exist and was no longer special to Allison.”

The court document says that based on information and belief, from 1948 until he died, Allison was shuffled between many church parishes and was assigned to churches/schools in Arizona, Colorado, California and Louisiana. 

A quick internet search reveals Allison was named as credibly accused clergy by the Diocese of Gallup, which serves northwestern New Mexico and northeastern Arizona; and the Diocese of Monterey, in California. The Diocese of Monterey's list provides the years 1964,1966 and 1969 as dates of incidents.

Diocese of Shreveport

The Diocese of Shreveport covers 16 north Louisiana parishes — Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, DeSoto, East Carroll, Jackson, Lincoln, Morehouse, Ouachita, Red River, Richland, Sabine, Union, Webster and West Carroll.

On Nov. 9, 2018, the Diocese of Shreveport released a statement from the Very Rev. Peter B. Mangum, JCL, JV, Diocesan Administrator, concerning priests accused of sexual abuse in the northern 16 parishes that comprise of the Diocese of Shreveport. It also provides a brief history of the Diocese. 

In 1976, the Diocese of Alexandria was renamed to the Diocese of Alexandria-Shreveport. In 1986, the Diocese of Shreveport was created by Pope St. John Paul II from what was the Diocese of Alexandria-Shreveport. When the Diocese of Shreveport split from Alexandria-Shreveport, “the historical documents and records, including the files related to the priests, living and deceased, remained in Alexandria, as per Church protocol,” according to Mangum’s statement.

“No allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by a bishop, priest or deacon since June 1986 have been received in the Diocese of Shreveport. A review of the files of all priests (living and deceased, diocesan priests and those in religious orders, native and foreign born) who have served in the Diocese of Shreveport since its creation, has been conducted by a lay professional and local attorney, without the presence of any clergy or employee of the diocese,” Mangum’s statement continued.

On Feb. 6, 2019, the Diocese of Alexandria published the names of clergy in a news release who were accused of sexual misconduct and abuse of minors -- which included Rev. Allison.

An allegation against Allison of sexual misconduct and abuse of a male minor dating back to 1961 was brought before the Permanent Review Board in 2004. The review of Allison’s file in 2019 showed evidence corroborating the allegation. The evidence was presented to the Permanent Review Board that year and the allegations were deemed credible, according to the Alexandria Diocese's news release.

In a Feb 2019 report, The Times identified that Allison worked at both Our Lady Fatima in Monroe and Christ the King in Bossier City.



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