April 04, 2005

Former Bishop Apologizes In Oakland Abuse Case


POSTED: 11:37 am PDT April 4, 2005

HAYWARD -- The former bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland said in court Monday he is "sorry" that church officials didn't conduct an extensive investigation into sexual abuse committed by a priest.

Testifying in an Alameda County Superior Court lawsuit against the Oakland diocese by two men who said they were abused as children by a priest in Antioch, John Cummings, now the diocese's bishop emeritus, said, "I didn't expect sexual abuse by priests to be a frequent occurrence."

Cummings said that in most instances the Oakland diocese didn't report allegations of sex abuse by priests to the local police because reporting wasn't mandatory until a law was passed in 1997.

Robert and Tom Thatcher's lawsuit alleges the diocese was negligent in assigning the Rev. Robert Ponciroli to St. Ignatius Church in Antioch in 1979 because officials knew he was a child molester.

The brothers say Ponciroli molested them on several occasions in 1980.

Posted by kshaw at April 4, 2005 02:27 PM