The Diocese of Savannah agrees to a $4.5 million lawsuit settlement.

The suit stems from alleged sexual abuse that happened more than 30 years ago against a 13 year old boy.

“He was a monster. He was just a pure monster,” said victim’s attorney Jim Shipley,

The words jump off the page.. touching.. sexual encounters.. molestations.. repeated sexual abuses. All of those words connected to Father Wayland Brown.

Brown was dismissed from the priesthood in 2004 and spent 5 years in prison for child abuse.  But its what he allegedly did to 13 year old Chris Templeton in the 1980’s which led to this settlement.

“When its a 13 year old boy, they were all taught that the Priests were almost godlike that was their salvation and without them there almost was no salvation,” explained Shipley. “Brown in that case would tell Chris after the molestations they would pray together, do the rosary and tell him that if he told anyone they (his family) would be excommunicated.”

But according to Attorney Jim Shipley, Brown wasn’t the only one trying to keep this quiet.

In 1986, while meeting with then Savannah Bishop Raymond Lassard, Brown admitted to “indiscretion” with children.

When Richmond County deputies started investigating Brown during that time, the Diocese decided not to help police, but to “hide” their priest.

“August of 1986 he was contacted by detectives from Richmond County in Augusta area who was looking to arrest Brown,” explained Shipley. “At that time they called a meeting at the chancery, discussed it with him. Told Brown a detective was looking to arrest him at that time they moved him to Maryland.”

“A year later when Brown was released from the school in Maryland, Brown was sent right back to the same school, St James.”

That’s the place where lawyers say he molested Chris Templeton, an alleged crime the Diocese could have prevented.

Shipley says no amount of money can get Templeton’s childhood back, but this settlement can give him some closure.

“Chris wanted to do this to show that the other victims are out there may not have reported shouldn’t feel guilty about what happened to them,” said Shipley. “After representing many victims of sexual abuse.they blame themselves for what happened to them. I think that’s one thing Chris really wanted to do is prove to them that its ok to stand up for themselves and its not their fault.”


SAVANNAH, Ga. – A settlement was reached in the lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Savannah on charges of alleged sexual abuse by a priest.

The lawsuit, filed in Jasper County South Carolina, named former priest, and convicted child molester Wayland Yoder Brown  who’s accused of abusing a 13-year-old boy in the late 1980s.  It also named the bishop at the time of the alleged crime Raymond Lessard as well as acting Bishop Gregory Hartmayer.

The suit claimed that multiple warnings were given to the church hierarchy about Brown’s behavior by clergy members as early as 1969.   He was a priest for the Diocese from 1979 until 1982 then again in 1987.

In 2003, Brown was convicted of molesting two minors in Maryland.  He served 5 years of a 10 year sentence.

The $4.5 million dollar settlement is the largest for a case of its kind in Georgia.

You can read the statement released by Savannah Diocese officials below.