Supreme Court denies petition for conspiracy case against diocese

CHARLESTON — In a March 19 order, the Supreme Court of South Carolina denied attorney David Flowers’ petition for original jurisdiction on behalf of plaintiff John Doe.

Flowers’ petition and complaint alleged that class counsel Larry Richter and David Haller,  the Diocese of Charleston, Bishop Robert J. Baker, diocesan attorney A. Peter Shahid Jr., and Circuit Court Judge Diane S. Goodstein colluded in the resolution of the 2007 class action settlement agreement in which the diocese paid over $10 million to past victims of sexual abuse.

“Any allegations of collusion with class counsel are ridiculous and unfounded and without any merit whatsoever,” Shahid said in a statement on behalf of the diocese.

The order denied the plaintiff’s request for the Supreme Court to hear the case. It expressed concern that filings such as Flowers’ have caused delay in a final resolution to the class action case in Dorchester County.

The court instructed the case to be finalized within six months.

The only issues left to resolve in Dorchester County are whether the court will order sanctions against attorney Gregg Meyers, who represented some of the victims in the class action, and whether the diocese owes legal interest on $1,375,000 previously paid to Meyers’ clients, according to the press release from Stephen J. Gajdosik, diocesan spokesman.

The diocese entered into the agreement in an effort to compensate victims of sexual abuse and has maintained its willingness to cooperate with the court and comply with court orders at all times, he stated.

The diocese is adamant that the abuse of children, including physical injury, sexual molestation, sexual exploitation, or grave emotional damage, will not be tolerated by anyone, especially church personnel, Gajdosik said. The diocese will do everything in its power to protect children, to attempt to stop any alleged abuse, and to promote the healing of all the parties affected, he said.