March 29, 2005

S.F. Archdiocese Admits Negligence in Abuse Cases

Los Angeles Times

By Jean Guccione, Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO The San Francisco Archdiocese acknowledged in court Monday that it had failed to thoroughly investigate a sex-abuse complaint against a priest in 1977, an unusual admission that comes as it and the Oakland Diocese face trials this week brought by alleged victims.

Both cases are receiving statewide attention because they are among the first to come to trial since the Catholic Church was hit by the abuse scandal three years ago. Legal experts said the amount of the settlements probably would influence the outcomes of more than 700 cases statewide, 544 of which involve the Los Angeles Archdiocese.

The San Francisco case involves Father Joseph T. Pritchard, now deceased, who is accused of molesting at least 22 children throughout the 1970s. In a statement read by a judge Monday to prospective jurors, the archdiocese admitted that it did not investigate "thoroughly enough or do enough at that time to protect the children."

The statement also acknowledged that three fellow priests "sometimes walked into the room where sexual molestation had been taking place and should have seen enough circumstances to make them suspicious of Father Pritchard's behavior" and reported it to his superiors.

Posted by kshaw at March 29, 2005 05:24 AM