Late Bishop Accused of Abuse

By Dennis Coday
National Catholic Reporter
November 26, 2004

Baton Rouge, La. -- The diocese of Baton Rouge announced Nov. 10 that it settled a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by the late Bishop Joseph V. Sullivan and that a high school bearing his name would be renamed.

In a lawsuit filed in April, a man claimed Sullivan sexually abused him in 1975 when he was 17 years old. Sullivan was bishop of Baton Rogue from September 1974 until his death in September 1982. Details of the alleged abuse and the settlement are sealed by court order.

In the statement released Nov. 10, Bishop Robert W. Muench apologized "for the pain this allegation causes" and announced that a high school named for Sulivan would be renamed, effective with the next academic year. He said he had asked the school's board to submit five name suggestions by Jan. 31, 2005.

A diocesan spokesman told NCR that the alleged victim "might have requested" the name change as part of the settlement, "but the bishop would have changed it anyway.... The bishop did not want any cloud of uncertainty ever remaining over that school."


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