February 09, 2005

Gag order sought in alleged priest abuse case


By Jeffrey M. Barker
Record Staff Writer
Published Tuesday, February 8, 2005

STOCKTON -- The two stories of alleged sexual abuse by a Stanislaus County Catholic priest differ greatly.

The plaintiffs -- a Hughson woman and her two daughters -- say Father Francis Arakal aggressively invited himself into their home, groped the young girls, then joined another priest in browbeating one of the girls when she attempted to report the incident.

The priests and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Stockton, however, say the woman was romantically obsessed with a priest who worked at St. Anthony's Church in Hughson and later at St. Joseph's in Modesto. The allegations against Arakal, 51, arose only after that priest had rebuffed the woman, according to the defendants.

The two versions were made public on Monday, in mandatory pretrial court filings outlining the details of the civil lawsuit.

The case is scheduled for a jury trial later this month, a rare step in priest abuse cases.

Citing pretrial publicity, attorneys for the Catholic church on Monday asked San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Humphreys to place a gag order on participants in the case.

Posted by kshaw at February 9, 2005 08:16 AM