January 25, 2005

Clergy-abuse cases stalled

The Press-Enterprise

12:01 AM PST on Tuesday, January 25, 2005

By MICHAEL FISHER / The Press-Enterprise

LOS ANGELES - Attorneys suing the Inland and San Diego dioceses over alleged sexual abuse by priests expressed frustration in court Monday, telling a judge that diocesan attorneys were uncooperative and stalling efforts to resolve 140 pending lawsuits.

But attorneys for the dioceses argued that the plaintiffs' attorneys had not given them promised questionnaires filled out by all the alleged victims. The documents, they said, are needed to assess the accusations of child molestation - some of them decades old - that target some past and current clerics in Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties.

"We're stuck in the mud," Raymond Boucher, the lawyer representing dozens of the accusers, told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Haley J. Fromholz in a courtroom crowded with more than 20 lawyers.

"When it comes to San Diego, we are way behind in the process," Boucher added, noting that the dioceses had not handed over proffers summarizing the personnel file of each accused priest. "It's our consensus that San Diego has been the slowest and least forthcoming."

Faced with an avalanche of 850 clergy-abuse cases two years ago, state court officials assigned the Southern California cases to Fromholz, splitting the 140 cases brought against the San Diego and San Bernardino dioceses from the more than 550 cases against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of Orange.

Posted by kshaw at January 25, 2005 07:35 AM