April 13, 2005

California Church Abuse Victims Due $27 Million

Sacramento Union

By Kim Curtis, The Associated Press
Published: April 13, 2005
HAYWARD, Calif.—Two brothers molested by a priest more than two decades ago should be awarded $27 million in damages, their lawyer argued in a case that has been closely watched because it is the first in a series of sex-abuse lawsuits to seek punitive damages.

Legal observers have suggested that a significant award for the plaintiffs could force the Roman Catholic Church to settle dozens of lawsuits filed against Northern California dioceses.

In closing arguments Tuesday, plaintiffs attorney Rick Simons said the church knew the Rev. Robert Ponciroli was sexually abusing children but failed to stop him.

“Now, many years later, the day of judgment is at hand,” he told jurors. “You are the representatives of the community. You’ve joined together as the conscience of a community where a conscience is needed.”

The case was brought by Bob and Tom Thatcher, who sat next to each other in the front row of the packed gallery.

Posted by kshaw at April 13, 2005 07:49 AM