Teen Boy's Parents Sue over Alleged Sexual Abuse

By Andrew Griffin
Daily Town Talk
January 16, 2003

The family of a teenage boy allegedly molested by a Catholic priest has filed a lawsuit against the former priest, the Diocese of Alexandria and Bishop Sam Jacobs.

"It's a personal injury claim," said family attorney Anthony Fontana of Abbeville.

The attorney said he is forbidden by state law from specifying the amount of damages sought.

The boy's parents, Daniel and Deborah Brown of Abbeville claim in their suit that John Wesley Andries, who was a priest at St. Margaret Catholic Church in Boyce, sexually molested their son while the priest stayed at their home in June 2001.

The Browns sued Andries, Jacobs and the diocese on behalf of their minor son.

Fontana told The Town Talk last spring, when the allegation first came to light, that Andries was visiting the Brown family and staying overnight in the same room with their then 16-year-old son. The Browns claim that during the night Andries engaged in sexual misconduct by touching the boy on the private parts of his body.

Appearing before 15th Judicial District Judge Marilyn Castle in Lafayette in May 2002, Andries pleaded innocent to a charge of sexual battery of a juvenile.

The criminal action in Lafayette is separate from the Browns' civil suit.

The Browns' lawsuit was filed this past fall and states the boy suffered "severe permanent damages for which he has obtained, and will continue to need, psychological counseling."

The suit also states the juvenile has suffered enduring sexual abuse, permanent psychological scarring, a change in personality, loss of "normal childhood and adolescence" and that the experienced has damaged "his relationships with peers and family."

Bishop Sam Jacobs of the Diocese of Alexandria spoke briefly with The Town Talk last week and said the "courts should decide" the case and that it should not be tried in the media.

Prior to the 2001 incident in Abbeville, The Town Talk had reported Jacobs had removed Andries from his duties at a church in Natchitoches Parish after a family there complained the priest had engaged in inappropriate behavior with their son.

Andries was reinstated as an acting priest after receiving psychological treatment.

J. Rodney Baum, the Baton Rouge attorney representing Andries, but not the diocese, said he needed more time to prepare for the case.

"We have motions pending in the criminal matter," Baum said. "I've asked Mr. Fontana for some more time to answer the lawsuit, as a professional courtesy."

When asked about the possibility of there being a countersuit filed by Andries against the Brown family, Baum replied he was not aware of one.

"I have absolutely no comments to make about the victims," he said.

"There is presently no trial date," Baum said. "However, we are moving toward that point."

Vermilion Parish District Attorney Mike Harson, the prosecutor where the alleged molestation took place, could not be reached for comment.

"Right now, things are in a holding pattern," Fontana said.

"We're waiting for the church to file their response. They said they need another week to get information together," he explained.


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