January 26, 2005

Judge rules diocese not liable in sexual misconduct cases before diocese was formed

The Mercury News

The San Jose Diocese is not liable for any sexual misconduct by priests operating in the South Bay before the diocese was created in 1981, according to a ruling issued today by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Ronald Sabraw.

Monsignor Francis Cilia, diocese vicar general, said Bishop Patrick McGrath was pleased by the ruling but emphasized that the diocese ``stands by its commitment to support the healing process of all those whose lives have been affected by the sexual misconduct of church employees.''

Lawyers representing alleged victims said they were not surprised at the ruling.

``I don't think it makes any difference to the victims,'' said Rick Simons, who is representing several plaintiffs in the case involving the late Joseph Pritchard, who is alleged to have molested 21 boys at St. Martin of Tours in San Jose. ``Financially, it makes no difference at all.''

The judge also denied a motion for a new trial by four men allegedly molested by a priest in Santa Cruz, and set trial dates in a host of other negligence lawsuits against dioceses in Northern California, the so-called Clergy 3 coordination of some 160 lawsuits.

They include a date of June 13 in the case involving San Jose priest Leonel Noia, who pleaded no contest to molestation allegations of one of two brothers, and Oct. 3 in a case against the Oakland Diocese involving Stephen Miller Kiesle, a priest alleged to have molested children at parishes in Fremont and Pinole. He was convicted in 2004 of molesting two girls in Truckee in the '90s.

Posted by kshaw at January 26, 2005 07:01 AM