April 14, 2005

Oakland Diocese, priest found liable for molestation

San Francisco Chronicle

Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer

Thursday, April 14, 2005

An Alameda County jury awarded nearly $2 million in damages Wednesday to two brothers who were molested by a Roman Catholic priest when they were altar boys at an Antioch church two decades ago.

The Hayward jury's award was far less than the $27 million Bob and Tom Thatcher sought, and it was unclear how the closely watched case might affect more than 150 other clergy-abuse civil lawsuits pending in Northern California.

But the brothers said they were pleased. Tom Thatcher of Longwood, Fla., said the lawsuit against the Oakland Diocese was about "exposing and trying to change some things in the way the church does business."

The award, the brothers said, punishes the diocese for transferring the now-defrocked Rev. Robert Ponciroli to their church in Antioch despite knowing he was a pedophile.

"They did find that the diocese acted despicably," said Bob Thatcher of Chandler, Ariz. "Justice was served today."

Posted by kshaw at April 14, 2005 05:50 AM