November 10, 2005

Ruling advances area clergy abuse cases

The Press-Enterprise

11:39 PM PST on Wednesday, November 9, 2005

By MICHAEL FISHER / The Press-Enterprise

A judge is allowing 23 of the 140 clergy sexual-abuse lawsuits targeting the San Bernardino and San Diego Roman Catholic dioceses to move forward toward trial, ending three years of legal limbo and failed settlement talks.

The order issued late Tuesday by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Haley Fromholz names 14 priests, including six who have worked in Inland parishes. Fromholz's order, which did not set trial dates, came a day after he issued a similar ruling allowing 43 lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to move forward.

Instead of heading for courtrooms and trials, the 850 clergyabuse cases filed in Southern California have spent years in limbo as attorneys met privately to try to reach settlements.

The Diocese of Orange settled its 86 pending cases for $100 million last year but talks between the accusers' attorneys and the other dioceses stalled.

Fromholz's order "is a significant step forward in bringing these cases to an ultimate resolution and, hopefully, some peace of mind for our clients," said lawyer Raymond Boucher, who represents hundreds of the clergy accusers. "Those people whose cases are involved are excited about the prospects of moving forward. For those who have cases that aren't part of the list, there is probably some disappointment."

Posted by kshaw at November 10, 2005 07:39 AM