April 13, 2005

Oakland Diocese Sued for $27 Million


Posted: April 12, 2005 at 7:28 p.m.

HAYWARD (BCN) -- In what may be the first trial of its kind in the U.S., the attorney for two former Antioch altar boys asked jurors for up to $27 million in damages from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland for allowing a priest to molest them.

In his closing argument in a case brought by brothers Robert and Tom Thatcher in Alameda County Superior Court, their attorney, Rick Simons, said the diocese "bears full responsibility" for the sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of the Rev. Robert Ponciroli about 25 years ago.

Simons said the diocese assigned Ponciroli to St. Ignatius Church in Antioch in 1979 even though they knew he had a long history as a child molester.

Instead of sending a model priest to the new parish, by assigning Ponciroli the diocese "sent a man with the language and temperament of a sailor and the hands of a child molester," Simons said.

Posted by kshaw at April 13, 2005 07:33 AM