BR Diocese, Church Settle Abuse Suit

By Steven Ward
Morning Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
April 24, 2004

A lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge and St. Theresa of Avila Catholic Church filed by four adult men claiming a now-deceased priest molested them as children in 1965 was settled late Thursday, a plaintiff's attorney said Friday.

The lawsuit was set to go to trial Monday in 23rd Judicial District Court with Judge Alvin Turner Jr. presiding.

John Carmouche, an attorney for the four plaintiffs, said his clients do not wish details of the settlement released to the public. The plaintiffs are two sets of brothers now in their 40s.

The settlement is "for a sum of money and counseling for the victims and their families for as long as they need it," Carmouche said.

"I can say that the plaintiffs are pleased with the financial settlement," another plaintiff attorney, Darrel Papillion, said Friday.

Defense attorneys representing the diocese and St. Theresa - Don Richard and Malcolm Dugas - did not return phone calls seeking comment Friday afternoon.

Charlie Cusimano, another attorney who represents the diocese, confirmed the case was settled, but he said he was not authorized to make any other comments. Deacon Bob Furlow, diocesan communications director, declined to comment on the settlement.

According to the lawsuit, the four men, who were between the ages of 9 and 13 at the time of the incidents, were sexually abused at the church, at the home of one set of brothers and at one family's fishing camp.

The accused priest, the Rev. John Berube, is dead.

The alleged abuse occurred between February and August 1965, the lawsuit states.

Papillion said the lawsuit was not filed until the men were older because they all suffered from severe repressed memory about the abuse until they saw news media accounts in 2002 of the Catholic Church sex abuse scandals in Boston.

Papillion said that the diocese removed Berube as soon as the boys' parents told St. Theresa of Avila officials about what happened in 1965.

Berube, who was not a diocesan priest, reportedly was sent back to his order in St. Louis, the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Sallette.


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