May 12, 2006

Church wants judge off abuse cases

Rutland Herald

May 12, 2006

By KEVIN O'CONNOR Herald Staff

Vermont's Catholic Church wants the judge who oversaw a record $965,000 priest misconduct settlement to be barred from presiding over 19 similar lawsuits.

In a motion that will be filed as early as today, church attorney David Cleary is expected to claim Chittenden Superior Court Judge Ben Joseph's rulings have jeopardized the statewide Roman Catholic Diocese's ability to receive a fair trial. As a result, the church wants Joseph to recuse himself from all its future cases or be removed by the state's chief administrative judge.

"The diocese has great concern over the lack of a level playing field," Cleary said in an interview. "We're not trying to hide anything. We're trying to keep prejudice from building."

But Jerome O'Neill, the lawyer representing all 20 men accusing clergy of sexual abuse, says the church, facing a file cabinet of evidence against it, is simply "shooting the messenger."

Posted by kshaw at May 12, 2006 06:59 AM