Diocese of Charleston refutes second collusion lawsuit

CHARLESTON — The Diocese of Charleston refuted claims made by attorney Gregg Meyers in a lawsuit filed in Federal Court April 13.

The lawsuit claimed diocesan officials colluded with attorneys who served as class counsel in the class action settlement between the diocese and past victims of sexual abuse. These allegations are unfounded,  said Stephen Gajdosik, diocesan media relations officer, in an April 16 press release.

The Diocese of Charleston entered into a class action settlement agreement with victims of sexual abuse on Jan. 12, 2007.

The settlement agreement, filed in Dorchester County, was approved July 30, 2007, and provided compensation to the individuals, plus their spouses and parents, who claimed they were abused by church personnel.

The diocese paid nearly $10 million, provided mental health counseling and offered an opportunity for pastoral healing.

The diocese entered into the Class Action Settlement Agreement in an attempt to offer victims of sexual abuse a non-confrontational avenue for compensation and healing, Gajdosik said. Myers filed the April 13 lawsuit just weeks after the S.C. Supreme Court refused to hear a similar case claiming collusion which was previously filed by attorney David Flowers.

On March 20, the court expressed concern that filings such as Flowers’ delayed a final resolution to the class action case in Dorchester County.

Similar allegations were raised by Meyers and Flowers in a petition and motions previously filed in Dorchester County. Judge Diane Goodstein denied the petition and motions in an order issued on March 23.

The April 13 lawsuit also claims one of the plaintiffs was sexually abused by Father Justin Goodwin.

Father Goodwin was suspended from active ministry in 1994 after being charged in Charleston County General Sessions Court with criminal sexual conduct and performing a lewd act on a minor. He died Dec. 25, 1995.

People who have been abused by a member of the clergy, or any other representative of the church, are encouraged to call Louisa Storen, victim assistance coordinator for the diocese, at (843) 856-0748 or (800) 921-8122. Calls are confidential.