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Another Church Abuse Case In Settlement Talks In Baton Rouge

Jan 8, 2003 | AP

A former altar boy and the Diocese of Baton Rouge are in negotiations to resolve a sexual abuse claim dating back to 1978, a Houston lawyer said.

Felecia Y. Peavy, who filed a lawsuit in state District Court this week on behalf of Patrick Myers, said Tuesday that she has been involved in the case for about four months.

In the lawsuit, Myers claims Christopher Springer, then a priest with the Baton Rouge diocese, sexually abused him from 1978 through 1982 on diocese property.

Named as defendants in the suit are the since-defrocked Springer, the Diocese of Baton Rouge, Bishop Robert W. Muench, and the diocese's insurance companies.

Bishop Joseph Sullivan led the Diocese of Baton Rouge from 1974 until 1982, the year he died. Muench was installed as the diocese's bishop in March.

Springer could not be reached for comment.

Diocese officials did not return a phone call by The (Baton Rouge) Advocate seeking comment.

Myers claims he was sexually abused on a weekly basis by Springer while the priest worked at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Baton Rouge and Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church in Clinton.

The lawsuit says the Diocese of Baton Rouge either knew or should have known that Springer was a "dangerous pedophile."

The lawsuit also refers to widely alleged collusion among all dioceses in the United States to hide the illegal conduct of some priests. It says the Catholic Church has known about sexual abuse problems since the 1960s or earlier.

The lawsuit claims the conspiracy caused a delay in Myers getting treatment for the alleged abuse.

Peavy declined to talk about any specific problems Myers has suffered.

"He's never had a chance to succeed in life," Peavy said.

Peavy said other altar boys who grew up with Myers were abused by Springer.

The Diocese of Baton Rouge has acknowledged that six priests have been removed during the past 15 years because of credible allegations of sexual misconduct with minors.

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