Former altar boys claim priest molested them

The Advocate/August 11, 2006
By Adrian Angelette

Two more men have sued the Baton Rouge diocese and former priest Christopher Springer, claiming they were sexually molested while altar boys in the 1970s.

The names of the latest two men to make claims against Springer were not provided in the lawsuit. Of the 11 men, including the latest two, who have sued Springer and the diocese, only one man, Patrick Myers, has been named.

The attorney for the altar boys, Felecia Peavy of Houston, said six of the men have settled their lawsuits with the diocese and the other five are working toward settlements with the diocese.

The settlements are confidential and no terms have been disclosed.

“We can’t believe how many people have been harmed,” Peavy said Thursday. “One is too many, but 11 is just a travesty.”

Few details about the latest two men to file suit against the diocese and Springer are available.

Peavy said that one of the men, who claims to have been abused while he was an altar boy at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Maringouin, now lives in New York City. The lawsuit claims that “Springer sexually abused and exploited” the former altar boy at the rectory of St. Mary’s of False River Catholic Church in the summer of 1975.

The other was an altar boy at St. Isadore Mission of St. Gerard Parish in Baton Rouge. He lives in Baker. The lawsuit claims the sexual abuse of the St. Isadore altar boy occurred on property owned and operated by the diocese of Baton Rouge in the fall of 1977.

The lawsuit claims that as a result of the sexual abuse, the men continue to suffer from psychological problems. The suit also claims that the church and its leaders failed to conduct an adequate investigation into Springer’s activities and the delay in getting psychological help for the men has made their conditions worse.

“Had such an investigation been conducted (the diocese) would have learned that (Springer) was a sexual predator to minor boys,” the lawsuit says.

In addition to Springer, Bishop Robert Muench and the Diocese of Baton Rouge were named as defendants.

Charles Cusimano, the attorney for the Diocese of Baton Rouge, could not be reached for comment late Thursday. In the past, Cusimano has said it is the policy of the diocese to investigate all claims of abuse and offer assistance to anyone whose claims are found to have substance.

Attempts to contact Springer for comment in this and other lawsuits have been unsuccessful.

Past lawsuit have all alleged that the sexual abuse by Springer occurred between 1968 and 1980. Springer has not been a priest for more than 20 years and there are no allegations of abuse lodged against any active priests in the diocese, Cusimano has said

The diocese has confirmed that Springer is one of six priests who have been removed in the past because of allegations of sexual misconduct with minors.

The latest lawsuit has been assigned to state District Judge Kay Bates.

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