Catholic Diocese of Savannah Faces New Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist.SavannahThe Diocese of Savannah and its former bishop are facing a civil sexual abuse lawsuit filed last week in Jasper County, South Carolina. The suit was filed in South Carolina because the alleged perpetrator, former Catholic priest Wayland Yoder Brown took the victim there and abused him on multiple occasions between August 1987 and May 1988.

The abuse lawsuit named Brown, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Savannah, former Bishop Raymond Lessard and current Bishop Gregory John Hartmayer as defendants. It is the third lawsuit accusing Brown of similar conduct.
According to a Savannah media outlet, “Brown was ordained in the Diocese of Savannah in July 1977 and served as associate pastor at St. James Catholic Church and school in the mid-1970s. The Vatican dismissed Brown from the priesthood in December 2004. He is a convicted sex offender and is registered in Maryland as a sex offender. The Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP) Director Barbara Dorris in St. Louis said Friday that ‘this is a priest that they had knowledge of as early as 1969.’”

The former bishop Raymond Lessard was a named defendant in the lawsuit because he was the bishop in charge of the diocese at the time the alleged sexual assault occurred. Lessard is now retired and serving as a “Scholar in Residence” at Saint Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida.

The seminary at which Lessard resides is no stranger to sexual abuse lawsuits. One of its former rectors, the Rev. Arthur Bendixen, a former priest of the Diocese of Orlando, was the defendant in a number of sexual abuse lawsuits in the 1990’s prior to his removal as rector of the seminary.

Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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