March 23, 2005

Civil trial in priest abuse case set to start

The Argus


HAYWARD Opening statements are scheduled for Monday in the civil trial of two brothers suing the Diocese of Oakland over their alleged molestation by a former priest.

Jury selection was completed Tuesday morning, with the panel instructed to return Monday. Between now and then, attorneys for Robert and Tom Thatcher and for the diocese will be back before Alameda County Superior Court Judge Harry Sheppard to discuss guidelines for evidence to be introduced at trial.

Richard Simons, the Thatchers' attorney, said questions remain regarding how much of former priest Robert Ponciroli's personnel file can be admitted and how extensive the testimony can be from other alleged victims.

The Thatcher brothers claim they were molested more than 20 years ago by Ponciroli, then the pastor at Antioch's St. Ignatius Church. Ponciroli since has been defrocked, but the lawsuit blames the Oakland Diocese which encompasses Alameda and Contra Costa counties for failing to protect the brothers from him.

Posted by kshaw at March 23, 2005 07:53 AM