A fourth plaintiff has joined a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic diocese of Beaumont alleging sexual abuse by a Sacred Heart Parish priest in Nacogdoches more than 30 years ago.
“All four of the plaintiffs have claimed that defendants used deception to conceal Father (Ronald W. Bollich’s) past crimes as well as those of other predatory Beaumont priests or former priests, such as Ernest Dale Calhoun, Frank Paduch, August Pucar, Roger Thibodeaux ... and to conceal its own failure to properly assign, supervise, investigate, report and remove Father Bollich for his injurious criminal sexual misconduct,” stated attorney Tahira Khann Merritt in a press release.
In April, “John Doe 104” of Dallas County filed in Jefferson County’s 60th Judicial District Court the original petition against the Roman Catholic diocese of Beaumont and Bishop Curtis J. Guillory, and his predecessors and successors. Five months later, the amended petition added “John Doe 105” of Cherokee County and “John Doe 106” of Nacogdoches County to the suit that seeks unspecified punitive and other damages.
“When the abuse began, all four plaintiffs were minors and Bollich was working as a priest at Sacred Heart Parish in Nacogdoches,” the press release states. “Before and after his time at Sacred Heart Parish, Bollich worked at several other parishes within the Beaumont Diocese, including Beaumont, Port Arthur, Silsbee, Groves and Bridge City.”
Bollich died on Aug. 7, 1996, at the age of 59. When the alleged abuse began, at least three of the plaintiffs were 14 or younger.
The plaintiffs claim in their petition that Bollich, in the mid-1970s, lured them with cash and gifts, including cigarettes, beer and liquor, before assaulting them.
“The respect and stature granted to Bollich as a pastor by the diocese gave him the opportunity and means to groom his victims ... for sexual abuse and assault,” the complaint reads. “The sexual assaults of plaintiffs were thus an outgrowth of Bollich’s grooming, which was engendered by his role as priest, mentor, spiritual guide and role model to plaintiffs.”
At least two of the plaintiffs were assaulted at Sacred Heart, while a third was abused in Jasper after Bollich was transferred, the petition claims. They also insist others in leadership positions at Sacred Heart and with the Beaumont Diocese conspired to conceal Bollich’s actions to protect him.
“All four of the plaintiffs have come forward to reach out to others who may have been sexually abused by Father Bollich and to protect other potential victims from harm,” according to Merritt’s press release. “They are asking anyone who has pertinent information about Father Bollich while he was assigned to Sacred Heart Parish or to any of the other parishes where he worked to please come forward and report their abuse to law enforcement.”
An attorney for the defendants, Jon Burmeister of Moore Landrey LLP of Beaumont, did not return a message seeking comment.
“The Beaumont Diocese and its bishops had both the authority and the responsibility to supervise and monitor the activities of Father Bollich or, at the very least, to warn parishioners and the public that he was a sexual risk to boys,” the complaint reads.
Merritt has said the plaintiffs will ask a jury to decide how much in damages they should be awarded.