March 28, 2005

Trial Begins In Oakland Priest Abuse Case

NBC 11

HAYWARD, Calif. -- A lawyer for two former altar boys at an Antioch church said Monday that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland gave "opportunity and a green light" to a priest who molested boys.

In his opening statement in the first of what could be many priest sex-abuse cases against the Oakland diocese, attorney Richard Simons said the diocese sent the Rev. Robert Ponciroli to St. Ignatius Parish in Antioch in 1979 even though officials knew his conduct at other churches "was not unblemished."

Simons said that Ponciroli abused Bob and Tom Thatcher in 1980 and said the brothers have suffered emotional problems, such as anxiety and issues of sexual identity and confusion, ever since.

Simons also said Ponciroli's actions weren't an isolated incident within the diocese but instead were part of the diocesan policy of "disregarding the safety of children."

Posted by kshaw at March 28, 2005 05:33 PM