March 22, 2005

Abuse victim had life of problems, lawyer says

Monterey Herald

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO - A 47-year-old California man who sued the Archdiocese of San Francisco for sexual abuse more than 30 years ago testified Monday that he felt "guilty, ashamed and disappointed in myself" after being molested numerous times by a San Jose priest he once admired.

As the second phase of the landmark civil trial got underway, Dennis Kavanaugh said that the Rev. Joseph Pritchard fondled him between 20 and 30 times in the early 1970s at several locations, including a golf course, the priest's rectory bedroom and a car. He also testified that he felt intense guilt for not revealing the abuse until 2002, which may have allowed Pritchard to abuse other children, including Kavanaugh's younger brother.

"I felt guilty about the fact that if I had said something, maybe a lot of people would have been spared what he did to them," Kavanaugh said in San Francisco County Superior Court. "I felt guilty. I felt ashamed. I felt afraid."

Kavanaugh is one of 22 former grade-school students who said they were repeatedly molested by Pritchard, who died in 1988 before the allegations against him surfaced. A jury hearing Kavanaugh's lawsuit against the archdiocese decided Friday that church officials knew or should have known Pritchard was abusing young boys while he was a pastor at St. Martin of Tours in San Jose.

Kavanaugh's civil lawsuit was the first of more than 750 against Roman Catholic dioceses in California to go to trial since the state temporarily lifted the statute of limitations for filing sex-abuse claims in 2002. The new law gave victims, whose allegations had previously been considered too old, one year to file molestation claims.

Posted by kshaw at March 22, 2005 07:57 AM