March 18, 2005

Jury says SF archdiocese liable for sex abuse

San Francisco Chronicle

Stacy Finz and Don Lattin, Chronicle Staff Writers

Friday, March 18, 2005

A jury concluded today that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco knew or should have known that a priest at one of its churches was molesting boys in his parish in the early 1970s.

The decision and a jury verdict on damages, which the panel will consider next week, could influence what Catholic dioceses will have to pay to settle 150 top 200 clergy sex-abuse coverup cases that plaintiffs have filed across Northern California.

The plaintiff in the case decided today, 47-year-old Dennis Kavanaugh of Palo Alto, was the first person to take one of these lawsuits to trial against the Catholic Church in California since a 2002 state law temporarily lifted the statute of limitations on damage claims against organizations that gave known pedophiles access to more victims.

Kavanaugh said in his suit that the San Francisco Archdiocese had been in a position to know that the late Rev. Joseph Pritchard, his former priest at St. Martin of Tours Church in San Jose, was a serial molester but that church officials had done nothing about it. Kavanaugh says Pritchard molested him as many as 30 times from 1971 to 1973.

Posted by kshaw at March 18, 2005 05:33 PM