All 9 Judges in Second Circuit Recuse Themselves from Diocese of Shreveport Abuse Lawsuit
By Deborah Bayliss
Shreveport Times via the Daily Advertiser
December 16, 2020
A strange occurrence in a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Diocese of Shreveport and the late Father William Allison, has attorneys in the case questioning what led to all nine judges of the Second Circuit recusing themselves from the case.
The lawsuit filed against the Diocese of Shreveport seeks damages on claims of sexual abuse among other accusations that occurred in the 1970s of a then child among other accusations.
Attorneys involved in the lawsuit, Johnny Denenea, SHEARMAN-DENENEA, LLC, New Orleans; Richard Trahant, Trahant Law Office, Metairie; and Soren Gisleson, Jed Cain of Herman, Herman & Katz
New Orlean, represent the plaintiff identified in court documents under the alias “Paul Doe” because he is a sexual assault victim.
“What we understand happened is that all nine judges of the Second Circuit recused themselves from this case because of an apparent conflict with each and every judge, although we don’t know why. So, as an initial conclusion, it appears that (victim-survivors) of clergy sexual abuse cannot get an impartial hearing before the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal,” read a statement from Denenea, Trahant, and Gisleson and Cain.
The attorneys stated further that, “After the full court recusal, the Louisiana State Supreme Court then acted within its supervisory authority and reassigned the case to the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal in New Orleans.
"We have not yet received any notice from the Fourth Circuit on how this matter will proceed next, but the recusal of an entire State Court of Appeal, and reassignment to another Court or Appeal is an extremely rare occurrence that our research has not revealed any similar precedent in Louisiana or in the United States."
The sexual abuse
Court documents describe the plaintiff as 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 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.
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 Allison, who died in 1986.
From 1973 to 1975, Allison was assigned to Our Lady of Fatima in Monroe. During his time there, 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 that 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 revealed 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.
As for their next move, “We have not yet received any notice from the Fourth Circuit on how this matter will proceed next, but the recusal of an entire State Court of Appeal, and reassignment to another Court of Appeal is an extremely rare occurrence that our research has not revealed any similar precedent in Louisiana or in the United States,” the attorneys’ statement reads further.