A volunteer firefighter from North Carolina who claimed that he was sexually abused in 7th grade by disgraced former New Orleans deacon George Brignac settled his lawsuit with the Archdiocese of New Orleans last week.
The amount of the settlement paid to Morris Daniels, who claimed to have been repeatedly abused by Brignac while a student at Holy Rosary School in the early 1980s, wasn’t disclosed by either side. But the plaintiff’s attorney, Roger Stetter, described the figure as “substantial” during an interview Monday.
Stetter said he and Daniels, 49, opted to settle the case rather than proceed to trial so that the plaintiff could get a measure of finality without having to again recount the abuse he allegedly suffered at the hands of Brignac, a suspected serial child molester.
“Trying a lawsuit should always be a last resort because litigation is not meant to be pleasant,” Stetter said. “It’s protracted, it’s expensive, and it’s unpredictable.”
Archdiocesan officials declined to comment when asked about the settlement, which was paid several days before Daniels voluntarily dismissed his lawsuit Friday at Orleans Parish Civil District Court. Stetter said the settlement agreement did not contain any admission of wrongdoing from the church, which is standard in these types of pacts.
The settlement is the latest interaction between church officials and an alleged victim of Brignac, who was revealed last year to be participating in Masses as a lay lector at St. Mary Magdalen Church in Metairie despite decades of child sexual abuse allegations.
It also appears to be the first settlement stemming from a series of lawsuits filed after the release last year by Archbishop Gregory Aymond of the archdiocese's list of priests credibly-accused of abuse.
The events at the center of Daniels’ case unfolded in 1982 at Holy Rosary School, where Brignac taught. Daniels alleged that when he was 13, his genitals were fondled in a bathroom stall by Brignac while Brignac masturbated.
On later occasions, Brignac raped Daniels and forced him to engage in other sexual activities, the lawsuit said.
Daniels said he left Holy Rosary after one year.
The Advocate doesn’t typically identify victims of sexual violence, but Daniels gave the newspaper permission to use his name.
The allegations stem from a similar time period as a separate suit against Brignac brought by another client of Stetter. The Advocate reported that the archdiocese settled that lawsuit last year for more than $500,000.
Two more men who attended Holy Rosary during that time frame are also pursuing suits alleging that Brignac, now 84, molested them. Those plaintiffs have other attorneys, and their cases remain unresolved.
A volunteer firefighter from North Carolina alleged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that he was sexually abused numerous times as a seventh-grader …
Daniels said he repressed memories of Brignac’s actions as he grew up but then recovered them after seeing news coverage last year of the other cases against Brignac.
The lawsuit noted how Brignac had been assigned to Holy Rosary despite having previously been tried – and acquitted – in Jefferson Parish on charges that he molested boys at St. Matthew the Apostle in the 1970s.
Daniels said he was appalled to see in media reports that Brignac had kept reading scripture during services at St. Mary Magdalen Church until last summer, despite his being defrocked as a deacon in 1988 while being investigated for molestation.
Daniels filed suit in December, arguing that he was owed damages from the archdiocese because the church failed to protect him from Brignac, who robbed him of his self-esteem, shattered his dream of becoming a priest and drove him to drug use.
He was among several people who have come forward with allegations of decades-old clerical abuse since the release of Aymond's list on Nov. 2. That list included Brignac, and it has been followed by similar disclosures from a number of other Louisiana dioceses.
Not all of those claims have resulted in lawsuits against church officials, with some being settled through private mediation outside of the courts, Stetter said.
Prosecutors have said they are evaluating the more recent claims against Brignac. No criminal charges have been filed against him.
An attorney for Brignac has denied the allegations against his client.
A former Catholic Church deacon accused of raping an 8-year-old altar boy decades ago in a case that prompted the Archdiocese of New Orleans t…