Church Sex Abuse Case Headed to Louisiana Supreme Court
Eleven plaintiffs filed a suit in 2018, alleging that Fr. Kenneth Morvant abused Doug Bienvenu and 10 other altar boys by giving them alcohol and:
using the ‘Power of God’ to prey on minors.
The suit filed in the 16th Judicial District of Louisiana goes on to say that each of the alleged victims didn't come forward sooner due to "dissociative amnesia" so the memories were repressed.
The details the plaintiffs provided to their legal counsel lists the accusations from each of them happened during sleepovers at the St. Martin de Tours rectory and include inappropriate touching, oral sex, and sodomization.
No decisions or information about the progression of the case have been released publicly to date.
The request for a supervisory writ came from the defendants: the Diocese of Lafayette and St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church. The writ application, as of the writing of this article, is not available, so the basis for the request is unknown.
According to a local attorney, a writ differs from an appeal in that a writ requests that the Court review a specific decision made in the process of trying the case be reviewed. A final decision is not required for a supervisory writ to be pursued by either the plaintiff or the defendant.
The Louisiana Supreme Court, in its note, ordered the 16th Judicial District Court and the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals to send records of the case to them for review.
Oral arguments will be heard on the Court's next available docket.
Written briefs must be submitted on time in order for the hearing to move forward. They are due on January 2, 2024, and Januar 19, 2024.
A similar federal lawsuit filed in December of 2019 in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana pointed at Morvant as the abuser. A story in The Acadiana Advocate notes that the federal suit named current Lafayette Bishop Douglas Deshotel, Archbishop Gregory Aymond, and their predecessors dating back to 1980. It also alleges that Morvant abused at least 50 children between 1971 and 1982. Eleven plaintiffs were involved in the 2018 suit, while five were listed in the subsequent federal suit. Neither indicated whether the same plaintiffs were involved in both.
The plaintiffs in the federal case were seeking $30-million in damages.
Following the 2018 filing, the Diocese of Lafayette issued a statement in which Bishop Deshotel stated:
There is no evidence of Father Morvant being implicated in the abuse of minors.
These allegations, however, are being given appropriate consideration.