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Miss. Supreme Court reverses dismissal of sex abuse lawsuit against Sacred Heart, Biloxi Diocese

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Forrest County Circuit Court erred in...
The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Forrest County Circuit Court erred in dismissing the complaint.(Source: Gray News)
Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 4:15 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WDAM) - A lawsuit filed against Sacred Heart Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Biloxi alleging sexual abuse will be headed back to court after the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed its dismissal Thursday.

The suit was filed in Forrest County Circuit Court in September 2019 by a man who claimed he had been sexually abused as a child by a priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

The lawsuit alleges the abuse happened in 1984 or 1985, when the man was 12 or 13 years old.

The man claims he repressed the memories of the sexual abuse until December 2018. He was later diagnosed with major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the complaint.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Biloxi responded to the complaint by seeking its dismissal on the grounds that the complaint was barred by Mississippi’s statute of limitations. The Forrest County Circuit Court agreed, dismissing the case on April 17, 2020.

The man appealed, arguing his claim was timely because he suffered a latent injury and did not remember the abuse until December 2018.

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled the circuit court erred in dismissing the complaint because the suit alleges the victim did not know of his injury until late 2018.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice T. Kenneth Griffis agreed with the circuit court’s ruling. Justice James D. Maxwell II joined him in the dissenting opinion.

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