NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The Supreme Court of Louisiana could decide if victims of church sex abuse have a right to sue their abusers, as well as the catholic church. The decision hinges on if two high-profile cases are related: church sex abuse cases and the NOLA no-call.
For about a year now, a John Doe’s lawsuit against the archdiocese and defrocked deacon George Brignac continues to work its way through the courts. The lawsuit outlines how Brignac sexually abused him at Holy Rosary Church from the time he was eight to 13-years-old in the 1970s and 80s.
The attorneys for the Archdiocese are now arguing the case should in part be thrown out on the same grounds the state Supreme Court threw out the NOLA-no call lawsuit.
“It’s very surprising they would make an argument like this,” said legal analyst Bobby Hjortsberg. “It seems like an attempt to use something that’s sensational, something on people’s minds to draw attention to it,” he said.
The Supreme Court recently ruled on the NOLA no-call lawsuit, saying Saints ticket holders did not have a right to sue the NFL.
The ruling stated, “It is not the role of judges and juries to be second-guessing the decision taken by a professional sports league purportedly enforcing its own rules.”
The attorneys for the Archdiocese cited the same language in their supreme court motion, saying, "It is not the role of judges and juries to adjudicate whether or not a religious entity such as the Archdiocese has complied with its own rules, doctrines or policies.”
Legal analyst Bobby Hjortsberg says that's a stretch.
“The facts of these cases are in no way similar whatsoever you’re talking about a game and priests potentially sexually abusing individuals there are no correlations between those two things,” said Hjortsberg.
“Obviously I don’t favor molestation of any kind, but if I’m the lawyer for the Roman Catholic church why wouldn’t I argue it,” said attorney Tony LeMon. “This is the supreme court of Louisiana that’s given this broad-brush stroke of opinion.”
LeMon says while he doesn’t support the Archdiocese using the NOLA no-call lawsuit as precedent, he understands why.
“You’re not going to enforce the consumer laws the fraud laws and other tort laws against the NFL why shouldn’t it apply in the Archdiocese situation,” he said.
It will ultimately be up to the state supreme court to decide, however Hjortsberg wonders how the Archdiocese signed off on the motion.
“To say the court shouldn't get involved with how the Archdiocese disciplines priests for potential sexual misconduct it’s just a shocking argument to be quite honest,” said Hjortsberg.
The attorneys representing John Doe issued a comment tonight on the motion saying, “Even the most devout Saints fans and Catholics understand that there is a vast difference between grown men of the cloth raping children, and a referee blowing a call in a game, and how each organization should deal with these issues.” The Archdiocese gave no comment.