A sexual misconduct case that shocked the Catholic community has been dismissed. Retired Biloxi Bishop Joseph Howze will not have to answer any questions about whether he sexually assaulted a congregant. That allegation was filed in court by a 50 year old man last March. But in an order signed on Friday, circuit judge Lisa Dodson dismissed the lawsuit, because the alleged victim never hired an attorney. Read the court order below dismissing the case, followed by a statement issued by the Biloxi diocese.
JOHN DOE 1 PLAINTIFF
v. CAUSE NO. A2401-08-0006
CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF BILOXI, MISSISSIPPI, BISHOP RODI, His predecessors and assigns, BISHOP HOWZE, THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, and JACK DOES 5 through 10 DEFENDANTS
THIS CAUSE came on to be considered on Defendants Request to Dismiss and the order Court, having reviewed the file, found that Plaintiff did not accept the copy of the prior Order concerning withdrawal of counsel and dismissal and that an attempt to provide same via the Clerk would be made. By Order dated October 21, 2008 (mailed by the Circuit Court Clerk on that same day), Plaintiff was given ten (10) days to either obtain counsel or to notify the Court in writing that he intended to represent himself. There is no entry of appearance of counsel for Plaintiff, nor is there written notification of intent to proceed pro se. It is, therefore,
ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that this cause shall be dismissed without prejudice.
ORDERED this the 7th day of November, 2008
LISA P. DODSON
CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE
JOINT STATEMENT BY THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF BILOXI AND
MOST REVEREND THOMAS J. RODI, APOSTOLIC ADMINISTRATOR
The case entitled John Doe vs. Catholic Diocese of Biloxi, Bishop Rodi, Bishop Howze, the Roman Catholic Church, etc., which made claims of inappropriate conduct on the part of retired Bishop Joseph Lawson Howze, has been dismissed. In reaching this result, we have made no payment to or settlement of any kind with the Plaintiff, and no payment or settlement is expected.
Prior to dismissing the case, on July 11, 2008, the court directed that the Plaintiff or his attorney appear in court within sixty (60) days so that the case could go forward. However, Plaintiff did not do so. After the passage of more than one hundred (100) days, the court entered a second Order, on October 21, 2008, giving the Plaintiff another ten (10) days. Both Orders states that if Plaintiff failed to appear, the case would be dismissed. Even with two court Orders, the Plaintiff still did not appear in court. After the ten (10) days in the second Order expired, the Court dismissed the Plaintiff's lawsuit since the Plaintiff, although ordered, repeatedly failed to appear in court so taht the litigation could move forward.
In our legal system it is not adequate to simply file a lawsuit which makes accusations, but the case must be moved forward so that the truth or falsity of such claims can be weighed in court. Since there was never any evidence presented to the Court in this matter, when dismissing the lawsuit the Court left open the possibility for the Plaintiff to file another lawsuit in the future. If Plaintiff files another lawsuit, we will be ready to again vigorously defend against the matter in court.