March 27, 2005

Followers confident in priests

Modesto Bee


Last Updated: March 27, 2005, 04:12:23 AM PST

Members of St. Joseph's Catholic Church hailed a jury's verdict that cleared a priest of sexual battery.

However, the jury awarded the family $20,000 for emotional distress over the way the Rev. Francis Arakal and the Rev. Joseph Illo responded to a child's complaint about the incident.

And a spokeswoman for the girls who sued worried that the case will keep people from coming forward to confront abusers.

Shannon Munoz, a 32-year-old mother of three, was waiting for St. Joseph's Easter Vigil Saturday. She found fault with the jury's mixed reasoning.

"I don't think the family should have been awarded anything. I don't think the parish is at fault," she said.

She expressed complete confidence in both priests. "If I didn't have confidence in them, I wouldn't be here now and every Wednesday and Sunday."

Posted by kshaw at March 27, 2005 08:12 AM