February 02, 2005

SR Diocese cases could be settled

The Press Democrat


Ten remaining lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by Sonoma County priests could be resolved in talks set to begin Monday, but any settlements could cost the Santa Rosa Catholic Diocese millions of dollars and force it into bankruptcy.

Santa Rosa's cases are first in line for court-ordered mediation efforts of about 160 civil suits against Santa Rosa and seven other dioceses.

Whether any of the local cases will be settled and how much it might cost is unknown. But Santa Rosa Bishop Daniel Walsh has warned 150,000 North Coast Catholics that a "single large verdict" could prompt the diocese to file for bankruptcy.

"Only time will tell (if settlements can be reached)," said Stockton attorney Larry Drivon, who represents nine of the 10 plaintiffs against Santa Rosa.

Diocese attorney Dan Galvin said he will "make every effort" to settle the cases, offering "reasonable compensation" to victims and also preserving the church's ability to perform its ministries.

Posted by kshaw at February 2, 2005 06:08 PM