CA--Judge rules against SF archdiocese, SNAP responds
For immediate release: Thursday, October 1, 2015
A federal judge has ruled that the Archdiocese of San Francisco cannot dismiss accusations that it failed to prevent students at a boys’ school from sharing inappropriate photos of a teacher. SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, expressed gratitude for the judge’s ruling.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick found a triable issue existed on claims the Archdiocese contributed to civil rights violations that caused a female biology teacher at Junipero Serra High School emotional distress.
“I’m glad that the Archdiocese of San Francisco wasn’t able to wiggle out of this case,” said Tim Lennon, the San Francisco Director of SNAP. “Church officials’ response to Kimberly Bohnert’s harassment echoed their response to clergy sex abuse. That is, the Archdiocese used its resources to protect the perpetrators not the victim.”
Melanie Sakoda, the East Bay Director of SNAP agreed. “When Judge Orrick wrote that ‘[t]he school (and the Archbishop's office) did not appear to learn from, or respond to, each instance of harassing conduct or to prevent similar occurrences in the future,’ the similarity was all too obvious.”
Lennon concluded, “We’re grateful that Ms. Bohnert will not be denied her day in court. The Archdiocese’s continuous efforts to block statute of limitations reform have closed that door to many abuse victims.”
Bohnert sued the Archdiocese last year, claiming it did nothing as students humiliated her for more than two years. The Church claimed that California workers compensation law barred the teacher’s emotional distress claims.
Orrick found that Bohnert had established a triable issue of fact that the Archdiocese's response to the harassment was unreasonable, that it did not occur within the course of normal employment, and that the Workers' Compensation Act did not bar her claims. The judge wrote, “The school repeatedly failed to follow its own internal investigatory procedures, minimized actions related to sexual harassment, and even condoned its employee's decisions to direct students to delete any incriminating photos on their phones."
Contact - Melanie Jula Sakoda (925-708-6175 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org), Tim Lennon (415-312-5820, email@example.com), David Clohessy, Executive Director of SNAP (314-566-9790 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Archdiocese Can't Duck Up-Skirt Suit - Tuesday, September 29, 2015
By MIKE HEUER - SAN FRANCISCO Courthouse News (CN)
The Archdiocese of San Francisco cannot dismiss accusations that it failed to stop students at a boys school from sharing up-skirt photos of a teacher, a federal judge ruled.
A "triable issue exists" on claims the archdiocese contributed to the civil rights violations that caused the teacher's emotional distress, U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick found on Friday.
Orrick did dismiss claims of Federal Employment and Housing Act violations against Junipero High School, but denied the archdiocese's motion in all other respects.
"The archdiocese's actions in response to each successive act of harassment fell short . . .