November 23, 2005

Sisters win $4.2 million in abuse lawsuit

The News Tribune

The Associated Press
Published: November 23rd, 2005 02:30 AM

Two college-age sisters have been awarded $4.2 million in a lawsuit against the Mormon church, a judgment prompted partly by the way a bishop dealt with sexual abuse committed by their stepfather while they were children.

Jessica Cavalieri, 24, and her younger sister, Ashley Cavalieri, 19, were abused at their home in suburban Federal Way during the 1990s. The decision Friday by a King County Superior Court jury could be a landmark in sexual abuse litigation against religious institutions in Washington state, lawyers said.

It’s the first sex-abuse verdict by a jury in a lawsuit against a church in the state and could affect settlements in other abuse cases, including those against the Roman Catholic Church, said Timothy Kosnoff, a lawyer for the Cavalieris.

“The size of the verdict is particularly newsworthy. I think the jury is making a statement,” Kosnoff said.

James Rogers, a lawyer who has represented people claiming they were abused by Catholic priests, agreed.

The Mormon Church would “aggressively pursue an appeal,” said Gordon Conger, a spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Posted by kshaw at November 23, 2005 06:54 AM