Plaintiff in church sex abuse lawsuit files motion asking federal bankruptcy court to remand case back to state court

Plaintiff in church sex abuse lawsuit files motion

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - One of the alleged church sex abuse victims with a pending lawsuit against the Archdiocese of New Orleans is fighting to have his case remanded back to state court.

More than 30 clergy sex abuse lawsuits against the church were stayed and moved to federal court when the Archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in May.

“This is probably going to be the first of many of these plaintiffs, they all want to be back in state court so they can do discovery, so they can take the depositions, they want to get the documents and the financial records. So, this is going to be the first of many saying we do not deserve to be in bankruptcy court, they do not deserve to be in bankruptcy court, let’s go back to state court,” said Fox 8 Legal Analyst, Joe Raspanti.

According to the motion filed this week, the anonymous plaintiff, referred to as James Doe, says he "was among a host of children sexually abused by clergy within the Archdiocese of New Orleans over the past several decades."

The claimant says he was molested at least 6 times by both Father Michael Fraser and Father Paul Calamari in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Both priests were on the Archdiocese's list of clergy credibly accused of child sex abuse that was released in November of 2018.

The plaintiff's attorneys argue the case should be remanded back to Orleans Parish Civil District Court because it is based on state law. They add "the longer this case stays in federal court, the more opportunities the Archdiocese has to continue to hide its misconduct, and the more likely the pedophile priests will die before receiving civil or criminal justice."

Attorneys for James Doe also claim in the motion “the archdiocese removed the case to federal court to prevent the public disclosure of documents showing what the Archdiocese knew when it knew it, and what it did and did not do with that knowledge.”

“Well, that’s the point of this, according to the plaintiffs, they say we want to get this discovery, we can’t get this discovery in federal court, in bankruptcy court, please let us go back to state court where we can ask the Archbishop and others all of this, discovery questions, that we need to ask them,” Raspanti said.

We reached out to the Archdiocese of New Orleans about this story, in a statement the church said,” we have filed our Reorganization and other associated matters according to the procedures of the court and want to work within the court system. We think it is inappropriate to discuss pleadings, motions, or other matters of litigation outside of court proceedings.”

The plaintiff’s attorneys say the case could be delayed for months or even years in federal court and would be adjudicated timelier in state court.

Copyright 2020 WVUE. All rights reserved.