A 64-year-old man from Washington state has come forward with previously undisclosed claims that he was molested by a priest decades ago while studying at Jesuit High School in New Orleans.

The new allegations are contained in a lawsuit filed Friday in Orleans Parish Civil District Court. In the 11-page suit, the unnamed plaintiff alleges that Edward DeRussy, a priest who died in 2001, molested him and a fellow student while they were being tutored in Latin.

He is seeking compensation from the Archdiocese of New Orleans and the Jesuit order that is in charge of the all-boys high school in Mid-City.

The lawsuit is the latest in a string of mostly unresolved civil cases that have been filed in the wake of Archbishop Gregory Aymond's public release in November of a list of clerics who had been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors.

Jesuit officials in charge of the region including New Orleans made a similar disclosure the following month, as bishops and religious orders sought to win back the trust of parishioners appalled by the latest reverberations of its decades-old clergy abuse scandal.

The list published by the regional Jesuits on Dec. 7 revealed for the first time that DeRussy had been the subject of multiple credible claims of sexual abuse dating to his time teaching Latin and English at Jesuit High between 1969 and 1978.

The new suit says DeRussy’s appearance on that list is one reason the plaintiff decided to go public with the alleged abuse, which he said occurred around 1969, when he was in eighth grade.

The plaintiff first started remembering the molestation in April 2009, when he came across the obituary of another Jesuit priest and began wondering what had happened to DeRussy, according to the lawsuit.

DeRussy shoved his hands into the plaintiff’s pants during a tutoring session, and fondled the genitals and bare buttocks of both the plaintiff and another student while he knelt between the boys, the suit says.

DeRussy frequently “reeked with the stench of alcohol” during the molestation, which played out over several occasions during a three-month period, the suit says.

The abuse later drove the plaintiff to drink excessively, struggle with depression and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the lawsuit.

A statute of limitations can bar many Louisiana plaintiffs from recovering damages for long-ago abuse. But the new lawsuit cites a court ruling which held “that repressed memory may operate to suspend the (statute of limitations) applicable to child sexual abuse … and that the issue must be decided after a full trial on the merits.”

Though the 172-year-old Jesuit High School is part of the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ school system, the Jesuit order owns and operates it.

Both the order and the archdiocese declined comment on the new suit, citing a policy against discussing pending legal cases.

The archdiocese offered prayers of healing to all abuse victims, while the Jesuits invited anyone who has been abused by a member of the order to contact it.

Other former Jesuit High employees have been named in sex abuse lawsuits that the order has previously settled. They include priest Neil Carr, religious brother Claude Ory and Donald Dickerson, a teacher who was studying to be a priest.

Since those cases became public, Jesuit High leaders have highlighted security measures that were put in place after those men worked at Jesuit. Among them are background checks and laws requiring faculty and staff to alert authorities when they have information suggesting a student is being abused.


Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.