April 06, 2005

Lasting trauma of priest abuse alleged

Mercury News

By Robin Evans
Mercury News

Nearly all still have thoughts of suicide. Cocaine binges almost ended one man's marriage. Sexual dysfunction is keeping another, who wants children, from becoming a parent. A woman cannot work.

Lawyers for four former students of St. Martin of Tours parish school described the ways in which their lives have been traumatized by childhood sexual abuse by their pastor, the Rev. Joseph Pritchard.

The third trial in the 160 clergy sex-abuse lawsuits in Northern California, which began with an admission of negligence by the San Francisco Archdiocese, will be focused entirely on how much of that trauma is due to the molestation -- and how much compensation the church should pay.

The three men and one woman are among nearly two dozen former students who are suing the archdiocese for abuse in the mid- to late-'70s.

One of the plaintiffs sobbed as attorney Larry Drivon described the decline of another, his school friend -- an honor roll student who, once the abuse began, started smoking pot. Later, as a teenager, he began using cocaine, and as an adult was often homeless and sometimes in jail.

Posted by kshaw at April 6, 2005 08:49 AM