February 15, 2005

In rare turn, Inland priest is suing accuser -- for slander

The Press-Enterprise

11:34 PM PST on Monday, February 14, 2005

By MICHAEL FISHER / The Press-Enterprise

Saying he was falsely accused of molestation, an Inland priest is suing his accuser for slander in one of just a handful of defamation lawsuits to be filed nationwide since the sexual abuse scandal erupted in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church more than two years ago.

The lawsuit by the Rev. Michael Bucaro targets a 26-year-old man who sued the priest and the San Bernardino Diocese in October, alleging that Bucaro molested him during the 1980s at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Corona. The slander lawsuit, blasted by victims' advocates as an intimidation tactic, is believed to be the first filed by an Inland priest in more than a decade.

"It is uncommon for a priest to fight back, but when they are falsely accused and their reputation is being harmed, it is quite appropriate," said Bucaro's attorney, David Hershorin. He called the accuser's lawsuit "an attempt to get money, plain and simple."

Bucaro claims that in 2004, his accuser falsely told his mother that he had been sexually molested as a child for several years by the priest. Those accusations exposed Bucaro to "hatred, humiliation, contempt, (and) ridicule," according to his lawsuit.

Posted by kshaw at February 15, 2005 04:03 AM