March 10, 2005

Mother takes stand in trial

Modesto Bee


Last Updated: March 10, 2005, 05:26:59 AM PST

STOCKTON A mother testified Wednesday that she heard one of her daughters cry out in their Hughson house one day in July 2001, and discovered a visiting priest leaning over the young teenager.

"He threw his hands up in the air and said, 'I didn't do anything!'" the woman said in San Joaquin County Superior Court, where a jury is hearing the family's civil lawsuit against the priest and others associated with St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Modesto and the Catholic Diocese of Stockton.

The girl, then 13 and now 17, testified Tuesday that the Rev. Francis Arakal "grabbed" one of her breasts during that visit in 2001. One of her sisters, now 13, testified Wednesday that she saw the touching, and said the contact occurred over her sister's clothing.

The younger girl said Arakal touched one of her upper thighs, also over clothing. The alleged contact with the girls came during a tickle fight.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, claims the diocese and St. Joseph's pastor, the Rev. Joseph Illo, failed to deal appropriately with the allegations.

Posted by kshaw at March 10, 2005 08:08 AM