Sex Abuse Allegations against Bishop Sullivan

Thursday, April 16, 2009 - 7:36pm

A judge has ordered the Diocese to turn over sealed records after sex abuse allegations against a former Baton Rouge Bishop.

The alleged abuse happened almost 30 years ago and the accused Joseph Vincent Sullivan is a former Bishop at the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge. The former student who’s now 42 says the abuse lasted for four years beginning in the late 1970s. He was a student at the then Baton Rouge Minor Seminary and then transferred to Corpus Christi after the school in Baton Rouge closed. The alleged victim’s recovered memories of abuse through therapy.

Despite the court order, sex abuse advocates like David Clohessy, executive directory of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, says it may not be that easy to get a hold of church records. “We hope that won’t be the case here, but in almost every other instance church officials do exhaust every possible appeal before they finally turn over these incriminating documents.”

Sullivan continued to serve as Bishop in Baton Rouge while allegedly visiting the boy in Texas. This is the second suit filed against Sullivan. In 2004, the Diocese of Baton Rouge settled with another former student and a local Catholic school that was named after him had to be renamed.

Sullivan died in 1982, but Clohessy says this is still one case that needs to be closed. “As long as clergy sex crimes and cover-ups remain covered up there can be no genuine healing for the victims or Catholics. The civil lawsuit against Sullivan is set to go to trail in October.

The Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge says it’s been advised by attorneys not to comment on the case.