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2 Local Men File Lawsuit Accusing Priest of Sexual Abuse

Aug 12, 2004 | AP

Two brothers who say a priest sexually abused them almost 25 years ago are suing the man and the Catholic Diocese of Memphis.

Blain and Blair Chambers say the Rev. Richard Mickey abused them in 1980 when they were students at Bishop Byrne High School, where he was a brother working as a counselor. Mickey, who was ordained as a priest in 1988, was a counselor to one of the teens and a religion instructor to the other, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed in Circuit Court two weeks ago and served Wednesday alleges that the twin brothers' repressed memories of the abuse surfaced for the first time when they took a fishing trip in July 2003. The brothers, now 39, live in Billings, Mont.

"I felt it was just my obligation, once we discovered it happened, to keep other people from being harmed," Blain Chambers said Wednesday in a phone interview with The Commercial Appeal newspaper. "We were so young at the time that I'm not embarrassed about it at all."

Blain Chambers declined to discuss specifics of his memories, on the advice of his attorneys.

The brothers are seeking unspecified damages from Mickey, the Catholic Diocese of Memphis and Bishop Byrne High School.

Mickey, who transferred in June to the church's Jackson parish, disputed the brothers' claims.

"I have not seen a copy of the lawsuit but I have been advised by the diocesan attorneys that a lawsuit has been filed," he said Wednesday. "I deny the allegations and I trust they will be resolved by the litigation process."

In Jackson, Mickey serves as pastor for St. Mary's Catholic School, a coeducational institution for students in grades K-8, in addition to his parish duties.

Mickey said he did not know whether the lawsuit would affect his position at the school.

Diocesan spokesman John Morris said the "diocese is assessing the situation and planning to do what is best for the children and families within the diocese, as well as for Father Mickey."

In a written statement, diocese officials said their attorneys "will demonstrate that the diocese has responded and acted appropriately to any accusation."

Attorneys for the Chamberses said they plan to question Mickey about his role in the Durran lawsuit. Mickey was pastor of Ascension when the alleged abuse occurred, while Durran served as associate pastor.

In an interview Saturday with The Commercial Appeal, Mickey acknowledged Durran's departure from Memphis was motivated by the allegations.

"We were protecting the children," he said then.

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