July 20, 2005

Psychology training helped in suits against clergy, attorney says

Lodi News-Sentinel

By By Jennifer GarzaScripps-McClatchy News Service
Last updated: Tuesday, Jul 19, 2005 - 06:56:00 am PDT

Joseph George stood on the Sacramento courthouse steps, watching as the media swarmed around his clients.

The attorney, who represented all 33 plaintiffs who settled for $35 million with the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento last month, was clearly enjoying the moment. He handed out news releases and dispensed sound bites like a pro.

Joseph GeorgeThe psychologist-turned-lawyer who couldn't get a job as a trial attorney when he started 20 years ago will make millions from the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church and has become known as the local specialist in religious abuse cases. He also is representing six clients suing the Stockton Diocese. Those cases are in litigation.

For the past three years, George has worked on the cases with an almost religious devotion. He says he sold his assets, went heavily into debt to finance the lawsuits and continued working even after a near-fatal cycling accident.

His efforts have paid off: George's portion of the Sacramento settlement will come to about $3.5 million, after splitting legal fees with co-counsel. He said the plaintiffs will receive about 55 percent of the total ($19.25 million).

Posted by kshaw at July 20, 2005 06:46 AM