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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Monday, February 28, 2011
CA judge upholds novel pedophile priest case; SNAP responds
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
Today, a federal court judge in California ruled that an unprecedented clergy sex abuse and cover up lawsuit can proceed. It’s believed to be the first pedophile priest suit ever brought under the 1789 Alien Torts Act.
It charges Catholic employees (and two powerful Cardinals who oversee the archdioceses of Los Angeles and Mexico City ) with ten offenses including crimes against humanity, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, civil conspiracy, and torture.
The case involves a notorious predator priest who, LA police say, molested at least 26 kids in nine months. The cleric, Fr. Nicholas Aguilar Rivera, was repeatedly shuffled back and forth between Los Angeles and Mexico City.
We applaud Judge Josephine Staton Tucker for opening American courtroom doors to clergy sex abuse victims who were assaulted in other countries. We also applaud this brave young Mexican man who is bringing this ground-breaking case.
We hope this unprecedented ruling will prod prosecutors and attorneys to begin to think more creatively and aggressively about other ways to pursue child molesting clerics and their corrupt bishops. We have long maintained that when it comes to going after predator priests, often “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” This court decision shows there’s merit in that belief.
A painstakingly crafted, centuries-old Vatican legal defense edifice is ever-so-gradually crumbling, thanks to the persistence and courage of thousands of deeply wounded clergy sex abuse victims.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, firstname.lastname@example.org), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
February 28, 2011
Groundbreaking Federal Court Decision:
Catholic Church Officials Subject to Alien Tort Statute
Judge of the United States District Court (Eastern California) says rape and sexual abuse of children and a conspiracy to cover-up those crimes by Mexican and United States-based Cardinals are actionable as “crimes against humanity” and “…cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment” under the Alien Tort Statute.
(Los Angeles, CA) In a groundbreaking decision, a Federal judge in California today denied a motion by attorneys for the Catholic Church to dismiss a lawsuit based on a unique international law against two Cardinals and a priest for their roles in the sexual abuse of a Mexican man as a boy in 1997, saying the plaintiff has sufficiently plead rape and sexual abuse of children as “…cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment” and crimes against humanity.
The case, filed in April, 2010 by attorneys Jeff Anderson and Anthony DeMarco, named as defendants American Cardinal Roger Mahony, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, and Cardinal Norberto Rivera and Father Nicholas Aguilar Rivera of the Diocese of Tehuacan in Mexico.
Using the international law-based Alien Tort Statute ("ATS"), a Mexican man, identified in the lawsuit as “Juan Doe I” alleges that, in 1997 , when he was twelve-years old, he was sexually abused by Fr. Aguilar and that this abuse occurred because the other defendants' conspired to conceal the previous widespread sexual abuse of children committed by Fr. Aguilar.
The lawsuit was the first to use the Alien Tort Statute to litigate a clergy sexual abuse. Normally the ATS is used in cases of torture and other international crimes against humanity.
Jeff Anderson, one of the attorneys for the Plaintiff called the decision “a defining moment in the effort to hold church officials accountable for what is clearly an international tragedy.”
Attorney Anthony DeMarco added that it is “a tremendous victory, not only for our client, a courageous survivor, but also for the dozens of children that were abused by Fr. Nicholas Aguilar Rivera and for the children worldwide who have been victims of the institutionally orchestrated conspiracy to conceal and cover up child sex abuse and rape.”
[The decision can be found at www.AndersonAdvocates.com]
Jeff Anderson: 651.227.9990 (Office) 612.817.8665 (Mobile)
Los Angeles Attorney Anthony DeMarco: 310.927.9277
Sarah Odegaard: 651.227.9990
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Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests