March 19, 2005

End to clergy abuse case 'no surprise'

Contra Costa Times

By Ivan Delventhal

OAKLAND - The attorney for two brothers whose clergy abuse lawsuit against the Diocese of Oakland will open soon said he was not surprised by a jury's decision to find the Archdiocese of San Francisco liable in a similar case.

A San Francisco jury, by a 10-2 vote, found Friday that the archdiocese knew or should have known that the late Rev. Joseph Pritchard was sexually abusing boys in the 1970s. The damages phase of the lawsuit filed by plaintiff Dennis Kavanaugh is to begin Monday.

Hayward attorney Rick Simons, who is representing plaintiffs Robert and Tom Thatcher in their lawsuit against the Diocese of Oakland, said the jury's decision in the Kavanaugh case was a clear rejection of the "We didn't know about this" defense.

The verdict also showed how persuasive victim testimony can be, Simons said.

"What most of the lawyers who are representing the Oakland Diocese don't seem to recognize is that these (victims) are very truthful, they are very believable and there's nobody making this stuff up," he said.

In the Thatcher case, the brothers allege they were molested by former priest Robert Ponciroli at St. Ignatius Church in Antioch in the early 1980s.

Posted by kshaw at March 19, 2005 06:59 AM