May 06, 2005

Miss. high court says allegations against Jackson Catholic Diocese can go to trial

Picayune Item

Friday, May 6, 2005 1:08 PM CDT

JACKSON (AP) - The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the First Amendment does not prohibit lawsuits against the Catholic Diocese of Jackson over allegations of sexual abuse by priests.

Three brothers filed a $48 million lawsuit in Hinds County Circuit Court in 2002. They claimed they were abused by a priest more than 30 years ago. The trial had been on hold while the Supreme Court considered the diocese's motion for dismissal.

The diocese argued that the separation of church and state made the church autonomous. It also said certain church documents were privileged.

The brothers argued the diocese was trying to hide behind the First Amendment to avoid civil action over priest sexual abuse.

The issue before the Supreme Court was not whether the diocese was liable for alleged abuse. The issues dealt with whether the lawsuit should be dismissed and what diocese documents should be provided to the plaintiffs.

Posted by kshaw at May 6, 2005 03:28 PM