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Jul 11, 2014 8:00 PM by Kari Beal

Louisiana lawsuit may force priest to testify a confession

A Louisiana lawsuit is trying to force a priest to testify what he was told in confession.

It dates back to a 2009 lawsuit with Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church in Baton Rouge. The parents who filed the lawsuit said Rev. M Jeffrey Bayhi ignored information that their daughter was sexually abused by Parishioner George Charlet Junior. This week, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that if the daughter testifies what she said in her confession, the priest must come forward and testify if it is true.

Now the Catholic Diocese is firing back, saying this completely goes against its religious vows.

"When a priest hears someone's confession he cannot talk about that. It's something so sacred that everyone priest knows when a priest is ordained what is told to him, he cannot tell anyone," Rev. Msgr. Richard r. Greene a spokesman for the The Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette and Priest of Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ in New Iberia.

UL student Kaitlin Davis with Our Lady of Wisdom Church said she agrees.

"It's personal, it's your salvation and Christ is giving it to you personally," Davis said.

The court case involves 20-year-old Rebecca Mayeux who was a minor at the time of the incident. She said she told Father Bayhi during confession about sexual abuse by a parishioner George Charlet Junior and he ignored it.

"Regardless if it's baptist or catholic or Methodist or whatever the denomination. When someone in that type of authority learns these matters, regardless of the setting, they should take some action. Protect that child, especially if you know things are ongoing and may escalate," Rebecca Mayeux's attorney Brian Abels said.

Rev. Greene said even interaction with a priest outside of confession can still be considered confidential.

"It depends on the conversation and what is agreed upon by the people. If they come to the priest not in the confessional, but they say I would like to talk to you in confidence. Well if they say it's in confidence then it is not to be shared," Rev. Greene said.

Not to be shared and Rev. reGene said not to become testimony in a court of law.

Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church said if this decision proceeds they will take it to the U.S. supreme court.

The Diocese of Baton Rouge released the following statement on the matter.

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