April 14, 2005

U.S. Catholic diocese must pay for abuse


SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A California jury on Wednesday awarded two brothers nearly $2 million (1.06 million pounds) for sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of a Catholic priest a quarter century ago.

The judgment against the Catholic Diocese of Oakland is the second in recent weeks in the San Francisco area that resulted from a California measure that temporarily lifted the statute of limitations for priest abuse claims.

The latest case involved Robert Thatcher, 34, and his brother Tom, 33, They said Robert Ponciroli abused them when they were altar boys in Antioch east of San Francisco.

The brothers' lawyers said the church knew that Ponciroli abused children but did nothing.

The jury awarded Robert Thatcher $875,000 in compensatory damages and $875,000 in punitive damages after finding the diocese was 60 percent responsible for the abuse, a court official said. The jury awarded $180,000 to Tom Thatcher in compensatory damages.

Posted by kshaw at April 14, 2005 06:01 AM