March 08, 2005

Oakland diocese abuse case under way

Oakland Tribune

By Glenn Chapman, STAFF WRITER

While negotiations continued in an effort to reach a "global settlement" between the Roman Catholic Church and those who have accused its priests of sexually abusing them, one of the first so-called Clergy III civil trials began Monday in a Hayward courtroom.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Harry Sheppard met for about 90 minutes with the attorney representing former altar boy Bob Thatch-er and lawyers defending the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland and Thatcher's accused abuser, Robert Ponciroli.

Sheppard was presented with two large piles of briefs he is to review before attorneys return to his courtroom Wednesday to argue motions, which include requests to limit evidence and expert testimony at the trial.

Jury selection could begin as early as Thursday.

Unless a settlement precludes the proceedings, Sheppard will preside over a civil trial pitting Thatcher and his lawyer, Richard Simons, against retired priest Ponciroli and the diocese.

Posted by kshaw at March 8, 2005 07:27 AM