CA - Unusual Trial vs. Priest Set for Stockton, CA

  • Accused Cleric Still In Active Ministry Despite Lawsuit
  • First Such Case In Stockton In Years

A rare civil sexual molestation trial against a Catholic priest is expected to begin next month in Stockton.

Father Francis Arakal, a priest from India, was sued in San Joaquin County Superior Court for allegedly abusing a young girl in July of 2001.

Arakal, now the associate pastor at St. Josephs Parish has denied the allegation.

"Clergy sex abuse cases almost never go to trial, because church officials settle fearing what juries might do if they learn the facts," said David Clohessy of SNAP. "We are appalled at how this devout family has suffered but thankful they have the strength and wisdom to try and warn others about this dangerous man and protect innocent children in the process."

Church officials suspended Arakal in April of 2002 because the girl's family reported the abuse. In July of 2002, however, Stockton Bishop Blaire reinstated Arakal to active ministry, claiming the report could not be "substantiated."

Stanislaus County law enforcement was contacted, but the District Attorney declined to prosecute in July 2002.

"That's not unusual. Prosecutors know that child molestation cases are tough, especially against the church,' said Barbara Dorris of SNAP. "Still, we're grateful this brave family is persisting in their quest for justice, healing, and prevention. We hope this will encourage other victims to keep pressing to expose the truth, even if they win settlements from church officials."

"Hopefully, this young victim will see her perpetrator and those who shielded that perpetrator finally have to testify in open court," said David Clohessy of SNAP. "That can be very healing. It may also prod other victims of Arakal to call law enforcement, so he can be locked up and kids can be safe."

The victim's attorneys are George MacKoul of Sabbah & MacKoul P.C. with offices in Patterson, California and Falmouth, Massachusetts (508-495-4955) and Anthony Boskovich of the Law Offices of Anthony Boskovich San Jose, California 408-286-5150

Diocesan attorneys involved are Vladimir F. Kosina of Mayall, Hurley, Knutsen, Smith & Green of Stockton California (209-477-3833) and Paul Balestracci of Neumiller & Beardslee of Stockton, California (209-948-8200). The Diocese has declined to represent Fr. Arakal, who is represented by Michael Coughlin of Stockton, California (209) 952-3878.

For more information:
David Clohessy of St. Louis SNAP National Dir. 314 566-9790 cell, 314 645 5915 Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP President 312 399 4747
Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP Outreach Director 314 862 7688

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