November 08, 2005

Abuse Cases Could Go to Trial in '06


By Jean Guccione and Megan Garvey
Times Staff Writers

November 8, 2005

After three years of failed settlement talks, a judge Monday placed 44 civil cases accusing the Los Angeles Archdiocese of failing to protect children from sexual abuse on track for trial sometime next year.

The cases are the first involving Los Angeles priests to make it this far toward jury trial. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Haley Fromholz's order raises the prospect of the first detailed public airing of charges that church officials moved around priests who were accused of molestations rather than turning them over to authorities or warning parishioners.

Plaintiffs' attorneys have estimated that the cases could cost as much as $1 billion to resolve. For nearly three years, more than 560 abuse cases against diocesan personnel have been handled entirely behind closed doors as Cardinal Roger M. Mahony vowed to settle all the cases.

The action Monday, which was requested jointly in September by attorneys for the church and alleged abuse victims, also means that the church may be forced to turn over internal documents that would show how officials handled alleged abusers. The church has fought releasing the files to the grand jury for almost three years.

Posted by kshaw at November 8, 2005 05:47 AM