February 17, 2005

Talks start in clergy sex-abuse civil cases

Contra Costa Times

By Randy Myers

Lawyers, victims and church representatives holed up in a Pleasanton hotel are trying to reach settlements in the 150 Northern California clergy sex-abuse cases with the first two trials less than three weeks away.

On Monday, an Oakland judge seemed determined to see those dates stand firm, tentatively ruling against church attorneys who sought to delay one of the March 7 trials. That case involves retired priest Robert Ponciroli, accused of abusing an altar boy at Antioch's St. Ignatius from 1979 to 1982.

The suit, which claims negligence by the Oakland Diocese, is one of the strongest set for trial, according to lead plaintiff attorney Rick Simons. Forty-two cases in all involve the Oakland Diocese.

Settlement talks in the sex-abuse cases, known as Clergy III, began this week at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Pleasanton. The lawsuits are the result of a 2002 California law that briefly lifted the statute of limitations on such cases.

Posted by kshaw at February 17, 2005 06:31 AM