Friday, February 1, 2019

Lawsuit Charges Sexual Abuse of Child at St. Richard

A lawsuit charged the Catholic Diocese of Jackson with covering up a case of child rape that took place in 2004 at St. Richard Catholic Church. The lawsuit provides sickening details one hopes aren't true:

13. On or about December 13, 2004, when plaintiff was nine years old, he attended "reconciliation" at St. Richard Church, along with all other St. Rich school children in grades 3-6. This was an event or act somewhat like confession, but for the younger children.

14. Given the number of children involved, priests we e brought in from other churches to assist with the day's events. On information and belief, fondant Father Doe was a Mississippi priest operating under the Jackson Diocese brought in fl om outside St. Richard to help with reconciliation on the day he abused plaintiff.

15. Plaintiff waited his turn and was directed by one of his teachers to a room behind the alter where the door was closed and where he found himself alone with Defendant Father Doe. Father Doe made Plaintiff undress completely and stand before him nude for a period of time while Father Doe examined plaintiff, made references to his body and forced plaintiff to recite his alleged "sins" or wrongdoing while being observed by Father Doe. He told plaintiff he had picked him for this and that he was not to speak of what happened. These acts caused plaintiff significant and lasting emotional distress and mental anguish.
The plaintiff claims he "suffered an emotional episode" where he remembered what allegedly took place and told his parents about it.  The young man and his mother spoke to Valerie McClellan, a psychologist at Catholic Charities in April 2014.  She allegedly determined he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

His mother spoke to Bishop Joseph Kopacz and Vicar General Elvin Sunds  a month later.  They told her the Church would investigate the allegations and report the alleged abuse to JPD.  However, the complaint alleges the investigator later told her the Church took him off of the case.

The alleged victim accuses the defendants of conspiring to coverup the sexual abuse of children in the Diocese.   The complaint charges them with conspiracy, breach of fiduciary duty,  negligent infliction of emotional distress.  and negligence.

John Doe asks the Court to order the Diocese to publicly release the names of all priests of violating "the rights of children."  He also asked for medical and punitive damages.

The case is assigned to Hinds County Circuit Judge Adrienne Wooten.  Attorney John Hawkins represents the plaintiff.

The Clarion-Ledger also reported that the Diocese notified the Hinds County District Attorney.  However, District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith said the
On May 22, 2014, an attorney for the diocese sent a letter to Schuler Smith that contained graphic details not mentioned in the lawsuit and, at the request of his parents, only identified the boy as "John Doe."

According to the letter, the boy "claims that after hearing his confession, the visiting priest told the boy to come to the sacristy, and the priest pulled down the boy's pants and raped him."

The boy, the letter said, did not know the priest but described him as "Irish, old, fat and bald."

"We will continue our investigation and will attempt to identify the alleged perpetrator," the letter from the diocese's attorney stated. ...

Schuler Smith said Wednesday his office did not investigate the incident after receiving the letter. Instead, he said, the DA's office waited on the diocese to conduct its own investigation and identify the priest. Schuler Smith said he does not remember if he contacted the diocese after receiving the letter but said it would have been unlikely because "without an identity we can't do anything."

"The letter appears to be their attorney fulfilling the ethical obligation to report an alleged event...but (as far as) the identity of the perpetrator and the identity of the victim, they did not go further," Schuler Smith said. "In fact, at the end of the letter it says they will continue to investigate and when they finished, would identify the perpetrator.

"We certainly appreciated them notifying us, but we certainly could not move forward without the identity. We didn't have anything to investigate."

He added, "We get letters all the time. We have to rely on people who are ready to come forward. It appears that they were not ready, the entire matter.... Rest of article.


Anonymous said...

I assume this young man did not have a father in his life and his mother needs help. I just find it hard to imagine how a kid can report a rape to his parent(s) and they allow 5 years to pass before they DEMAND action. If this actually happened, the priest must have known the kid had no real parental authority otherwise he'd be taking his own life into his hands. But they say this was a visiting priest...

If it were my kid there would be a vacancy at that parish.

Anonymous said...

I'm a cradle Catholic, and can say without reservation say that my faith has enriched my life in ways few can understand.

So...let the Catholic bashing begin...but remember a few things:

If calling my faith a cult makes you feel better about yourself - go ahead, it will just steel my resolve and I will work that much harder to turn your heart.

Please, tell me my beliefs are an artifact of a time gone by, are unrealistic and unenlightened, and I'll pray that much harder for you to understand the real Truth.

Please - give me a reason to approach the Eucharist, the Lord and the Truth with that much more vigor.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why there's so much hesitation about commenting on this topic?Quick to make comments on crimes in Jackson,but in all actuality the same people need to look in the mirror before they criticize.I don't care how poor the people in the "hoods" of Jackson are, you'll never catch them continuously deliver their kids to priests who have been molesting young kids for DECADES!!!So who are the REAL monsters???The Priests or the parents who continue to turn a blind eye and not speak up about the demons in their closet?In my opinion(BOTH)!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

This one kind of smells to high heaven (forgive me Father). Of recent note it appears the Church is going out of its way to become transparent. A significant change from past times, but nonetheless a positive change. Dioceses across the country are releasing their list of credible complaints of abuse at the hands of Church officials. Doesn't anyone find the timing of this suit might have been strategic in order to ride the wave of news cycles. After all, how many fat, Irish, bald priests were at St. Richards in Jackson on that very day in 2004? I would guess not very many. The facts don't just seem to add up when you get down to it.

Anonymous said...

If true, these claimed events are horrific and the institutions and people involved should be held accountable. Such events would not be unprecedented.

If not true, I hope the broader church (the body of Christian believers, including the Catholic Church and others) is not further tarnished, and that the truth comes out quickly.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to read that this may have happened at St. Richard's. It is a wonderful school, full of life, light and love and one I have no hesitation in recommending. Fr. Mike O'Brien is one of the best and kindest men I have ever known and I feel certain did not know of this incident. No child should be alone in a closed room with anyone, male or female, without a parent. And every child should be listened to and believed until proved different when they speak of anything even bordering on abuse of any type. 2004 was not the dark ages.

Years ago I reported physical abuse to the Principal at a City of Jackson school. The child himself and my son told me of the beatings. Nothing was ever done and I still carry the guilt for not going to someone else.

I am sure many children are abused in many schools and churches. The Catholic Church seems to be a favorite target. My heart goes out to the young man filing these charges and I pray all involved can reach a just conclusion.

If and when any private investigation appears and/or if the private investigator comes forward to defend him/herself, I would hope their report will be shared. I am surprised his/her name does not appear in the court filings. Whether the investigator was terminated or not, a report should have been generated and such a report should be revealed. The parent/s have stated they knew who investigated this event, I believe.

Anonymous said...

TIMELINE: 12/2004 Rape alleged to have taken place
2014 Victim tells parents
5/2014 Investigation begins (by diocese)
12/2018 Civil Suit filed

And this is supposed to be the rape of a 9 year old kid that happened in broad daytime on a school campus under the supervision of adults. And this kid has parents. C'mon.

Anonymous said...

No child should be in a room alone without other adults present on my opinion. An asset. principal or counselor or parent should be required to be present. Protect your children, don’r trust anyone because they claim to be religious. Doors should be left open!

Anonymous said...

When hundreds of priest up north have been known to harm children, I am not sure why some here believe it is impossible for it to have happened here. Most of those cases were not reported until the victims were adults, many years later. It is not a Catholic problem and can occur in any church. Protect and look out for your children.

Anonymous said...

Gold digger...

Anonymous said...

If true, this is an absolute tragedy. However, it does seem the diocese and the church took the right steps once the mother reported it. There is no coverup allegation here. Fr. Mike O'Brien is absolutely upstanding and one of the best and kindest people I have ever met.

Also, RSS just not investigating seems a little ... lazy.

Anonymous said...

1. Late 1990’s -2002 – Boston scandal. In response to this the Dallas Charter was established that added background checks, etc.
2. The number of credible accusations of pedophilia since 2002 had dramatically dropped, albeit that one case is one case too many.
3. In 2013-14 : there were six credible cases of pedophilia within the US Catholic church.
4. In 2016: there were two credible cases of pedophilia within the US Catholic church.
5. The 2018 Pennsylvania grade jury covered 1936-2018.
6. Pre-1990’s, mainstream psychological thought was that pedophiles can be rehabilitated. The Catholic church accepted this idea for the priests. Now the Catholic Church says one strike and the priest is out.

Anonymous said...

I'm always alarmed by the ones who jump on the 'it happens everywhere in every denomination' crowd. In fact, NO, it does NOT. This is a Catholic problem. They recruit homosexual, pervert, pedophiles. Some claim they have to in order to maintain the rule of celibacy. But, celibacy doesn't simply mean no sexual intercourse with people of the opposite sex.

You Catholics who claim this crap is universal are no different from the black folks who claim crime is the same in every community. THEY are lying and YOU are lying.

Anonymous said...

The movie, "Spotlight" is running currently on Showtime, about the "esteemed" Cardinal Bernard Law, who looked the other way for years. An excellent film, but so sad to watch, knowing that it's a true story. Remember when Law was starting out in priesthood in Jackson? He was our parish priest for a while, and my parents, along with everyone else in the area Catholic churches, adored him. When his life of lies and deceit were over and he resigned, amazingly, the Vatican even saw fit to allow him to live retirement in luxury and be buried with all of the bells and whistles. I am in my 60's now, but I knew a boy from grade school who was molested at St. Richard's. I have a relative who in high school had a priest attempt to grab his private parts, and my relative threatened him with his life. Other classmates told my brother that he did that all of the time! I have another relative who was sexually assaulted at the same school, not by a priest, but a faculty member. She reported hers to the principal several years later, but in researching the principal, he was rather sketchy, too, and he did nothing. She lived with guilt for years, thinking it was her fault that he picked her to attack. She found out she was not the only one attacked by this creep. I was raised Catholic, don't attend Church any more, but embrace most of the Church's beliefs. However, I despise the evil perverts who stalked innocent children and caused so much heartache to individuals and their families.

Anonymous said...

I suspect 8:09 is a preacher with skeletons in his closet. They are always the first to say not me.

Anonymous said...

Pedophiles choose jobs and professions that give them access to children.

Anyone who thinks their schools or churches or summer camps any other situation where the adult is coming into contact with children are immune are stupidly naïve.

The movie "Spotlight" about the Boston investigation lists cities where pedophile priests were located and the number of abuse complaints filed. Jackson is on the list.

Those of you who are " cradle Catholics" have a responsibility to make sure your church takes aggressive measures to rid itself of pedophile priests and takes measures to protect children while in church or school.
And, I'm dismayed at the response to date because limiting contact with parish children doesn't protect the community's children. Allowing them to come to the Vatican or go to a " treatment" facility isn't imprisonment or putting them on a sexual offender list.

Faith in God and living your life so as to be pleasing in His eyes is important. Faith in an organization composed of humans is foolish.

Anonymous said...

No man, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jewish, whatever can be trusted with with absolute authority. All MUST be scrutinized and watched at every turn or there will be abuse. The Catholic clergy enjoyed a kind of immunity for years and the results are evident. The same occurs in other religions and denominations but with most others the abuse is financial since they don't all have that celibacy stuff. Everything else is on the table though.

Little Peter's Perfect Parents said...

While some say counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists are the flagship occupations for patient sexual abuse, it is damned sure undeniably true that Catholic priests hold that trophy for religious institutions and other cults.

Not only is it true that pedophiles search out occupations and hobbies that place them in close proximity with potential victims, it's also undeniable that the Catholic church, as an historical tradition, have recruited them knowingly and by design.

And the dumbest damned part of all is the parents who offer up their per-pubescent male children at the altar of this madness.

Anonymous said...

7:17 am It's not and wasn't just male children who were abused.
You really should bother to know something more than news headlines about what you choose to write.
Please provide the research of the " some" are who say counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists are the " flagship" for patient sexual abuse. Particularly, provide the research regarding child sexual abuse that support your bogus claim.
In most states, those professions now require a rigorous licensing procedure that, while imperfect, is better than that given other professions.
Everyone should check the credentials of any professional they use especially if they are treating their children. The professional should have graduated from accredited programs in the specific area of treatment they are giving and be licensed to practice.
Mississippi was lax for a long time in not requiring licensing. Psychologists with degrees in testing were doing therapy and were not qualified to do so. Social workers were not required to be licensed and their college degrees could be in geography. There is a licensing procedure in place now, but it's not the most stringent and not as specific as it should be.

Anonymous said...

7:17 AM Were you abused by a Catholic Priest? Your thinly veiled anger and warped thoughts seem to cry for counselling. While it may be true that some homosexual priest were recruited (and they are not necessarily pedophiles any more so than heterosexuals), what you are suggesting is truly a vile scenario.

Incest is far more common than pedophilia. Our society is rife with incest. Concentrate your efforts to getting help -- you need it.

Anonymous said...

I do wholeheartedly agree with February 1, 2019 at 8:00 PM that "Fr. Mike O'Brien is absolutely upstanding and one of the best and kindest people I have ever met." And I'm very impressed with the current Pope.

February 1, 2019 at 1:51 PM, how can you be so brainwashed and narrow-minded as not to want to even consider that this horrific charge and others might be true?!? Would you not want to preserve this institution that you so vehemently defend? Look to Fr. John Bohn as an example. He left the Church for a brief period over this atrocity and returned. Then served as an informant to protect and defend his faith from those who abuse.

Anonymous said...

Yep, Feb. 2 @ 8:09...this is just a Catholic problem, or not, read: Investigation finds decades of abuse in Southern Baptist Convention //

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