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Law Firm Sues Vatican For Policies Demanding Secrecy When Dealing With Sexual Abuse Of Altar Boys

January 3, 2020 GMT

NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 3, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- A $30 million lawsuit against The Vatican blames policies that mandated secrecy in handling allegations of sex abuse by clergy.

The late Reverend Monsignor Kenneth Romain Morvant, ordained into priesthood by The Vatican in 1961, is alleged to have drugged altar boys with alcohol during weekend sleepovers in his parish residence. Once the boys reached intoxication, Morvant raped, molested and sexually exploited them, according to the lawsuit.

Morvant was suddenly removed from the parish in the wake of rumors, according to the lawsuit filed by Spagnoletti Law Firm on behalf of the former altar boys, now grown men. He was pastor and head of multiple schools in the Archdiocese of New Orleans and Diocese of Lafayette from 1961 to 2003.

“Morvant’s Vatican-granted authority, power and access as a priest allowed him to ingratiate himself with the altar boys and their parents. The Vatican’s policies protected him and kept him gainfully employed. Yet The Vatican has refused to cooperate with judicial entities, to the further detriment of survivors of sexual abuse,” Eric Rhine, Spagnoletti Law Firm said.

The lawsuit cites The Vatican’s 1922 and 1962 instructions regarding solicitation of sex, which called for extreme secrecy and priestly reassignments. Failure to comply with the instructions—even if they violated state, federal or international mandatory reporting laws—would result in excommunication, and thus, damnation for Catholic believers.

“Not only has The Vatican consistently placed the reputation of the Church and protection of perpetrators above the wellbeing of children, The Vatican failed to establish clear rules, mechanisms and procedures for mandatory reporting to law enforcement of all suspected cases of child sexual abuse and exploitation,” Marcus Spagnoletti, Spagnoletti Law Firm said.

“The Vatican refuses to address its clergy child sex abuse crisis. The Vatican could do so by promoting the reform of statutes of limitations in countries where statutes impede survivors and their families from seeking justice. But, by clinging to policies that promote secrecy, cover ups and protect the Vatican’s own reputation, The Vatican leaves its victims to suffer in hopelessness,” Felecia Peavy, attorney for the plaintiffs said.

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SOURCE Spagnoletti Law Firm