March 24, 2005

Expert witness minimizes effect of priests' sex abuse

San Francisco Chronicle

Steve Rubenstein, Chronicle Staff Writer

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Youngsters sexually abused by priests can "sometimes slide right over it with no perceived effects,'' a psychologist hired by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco testified Wednesday.

Jonathan French, a San Francisco psychologist and sex abuse expert, told a Superior Court jury that he found molestation victim Dennis Kavanaugh had suffered no significant psychological problems after being molested as a teenager in the early 1970s by a San Jose priest.

"He seems like an upbeat, decent guy,'' French testified. "He's a survivor. He managed to get married, raise kids. I don't see much evidence that this (molestation) significantly interfered with his daily life. He had friends. He did stuff.''

French said some kinds of molestation are worse than others and that the kind that Kavanaugh suffered was relatively mild, as it was not accompanied by physical violence or threats.

"Some people roll with it; others are severely damaged,'' French said.

Posted by kshaw at March 24, 2005 01:23 PM