U.S. Supreme Court sides with victim, not Diocese of Baton Rouge
WASHINGTON - The nation's highest court announced today it will not hear arguments from the Diocese of Baton Rouge involving a local sex abuse lawsuit.
This is a win for the victim, who has been fighting the Catholic Church for the past five years. The controversy involves whether a confession given to a Catholic Priest can be used at trial. The Diocese of Baton Rouge appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court after the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled the confession could be used.
"We are very pleased with the decision from the US Supreme Court," Brian Abels, the alleged victim's attorney said. "We were hoping that would be the decision that came down, and now we are hoping the case will come back to the 19th JDC in Baton Rouge."
All of this centers around a woman named Rebecca Mayeux. She was 14 at the time she claims she was abused by a local parishioner, George Charlet Junior. Charlet died as investigators began looking into the allegations of abuse which took place at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church in Clinton.
Court records show Mayeux went to her priest, Father Jeffrey Bayhi for advice. She talked to him during a confession. Mayeux's lawsuit says at no time did Bayhi report the alleged abuse to authorities. Instead, court records show Bayhi told Mayeux, "sweep it under the floor and get rid of it."
"Some of the abuse occurred after she had gone to the priest," Abels said. "We do believe if there had been a report, if authorities had been alerted the first time, some of that abuse we don't think would have happened."
The Diocese of Baton Rouge responded to the ruling in a statement on Tuesday afternoon saying they have "a number of options" for bringing other constitutional challenges from the Diocese or Father Bayhi in the case, and they are currently evaluating their options. The Diocese continues its efforts to "protect the guarantees of religious freedom" set forth in both state and federal constitutions, and said they are confident the efforts will be successful.
A trial is scheduled for July. Tune in to News 2 at 6 for the latest details.