Another Suit Filed against Ex-Priest

By Adrian Angelette
Morning Advocate
April 26, 2003

More allegations of sexual abuse have been made against a former Roman Catholic priest who used to be based in Baton Rouge, a Houston lawyer said on Friday.

The latest allegations involve the molestation of a boy more than 30 years ago in Corpus Christi, Texas, said Felecia Peavy, the Houston lawyer. Peavy also represents a Houston man who claims the ex-priest, Christopher Springer, molested him while he was an altar boy in Baton Rouge.

Springer was a priest at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Baton Rouge from 1976 to 1980 before moving on to Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church in Clinton. Patrick Myers, a former altar boy in Baton Rouge, alleges that Springer molested him between 1978 and 1982, according to a lawsuit he filed in Baton Rouge in January.

The more recent lawsuit, filed earlier this month in federal court in Galveston, Texas, accuses Springer of molesting James Cameron, an altar boy in Corpus Christi, from the summer of 1969 to the spring of 1972. Besides Springer, the other defendants in the Galveston suit are the Roman Catholic Diocese of Corpus Christi, Bishop Edmund Carmody of the Corpus Christi diocese, the Very Rev. Thomas Picton, vice provincial of The Redemptorists/New Orleans Vice Province, as well as the Redemptorist order.

Attempts to locate Springer for comment on the allegations have failed.

Peavy said that both of her clients, Myers and Cameron, have experienced psychological difficulties as adults because of the alleged molestations.

Peavy said church officials in Baton Rouge and Corpus Christi knew of allegations that Springer had molested children. She said the officials did not try to find and help all of the children who may have been sexually assaulted.

"They knew there were victims out there," Peavy said.

Peavy said the officials chose to hide the alleged acts, a decision that put other children at risk.

Carmody said he has been in the Corpus Christi diocese for just three years and only knows of Springer because of allegations made in the lawsuit. He said Springer had been a Redemptorist priest who did not work directly for the Corpus Christi diocese.

In January, the Very Rev. John Carville, vicar general for the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge, said Springer was one of six priests removed from the diocese after church officials learned of allegations he molested boys.

Carville said church officials did not receive allegations about Springer until 1985. He said then-Bishop Stanley Ott "acted quickly" by dismissing Springer from the ministry.

Peavy said on Friday that Cameron's parents, who had befriended Springer while in Corpus Christi, had stayed in touch with Springer after he left Texas.

In 1981, four years before Springer was dismissed, the Camerons were helping Springer develop a boys camp in the Baton Rouge area. Their son told the Camerons that Springer had molested him a decade earlier, while he was an altar boy. Peavy said the Camerons immediately informed officials with the Baton Rouge diocese about the allegations, but she said Baton Rouge officials did nothing.

The defendants in the Baton Rouge lawsuit are Springer, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge, Bishop Robert W. Muench, and the insurance companies that provided policies for the diocese. Peavy said she has filed an amendment to add Picton and the Redemptorist order to the Baton Rouge suit. She said she made the additions because Springer was ordained as a priest and employed by the New Orleans Vice Province while working in Corpus Christi and Baton Rouge, she said.

Attempts to reach Redemptorist officials were unsuccessful on Friday.


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