The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Lawyer for predator nun is disciplined; Sex abuse victims respond
Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747, [email protected])
It's shameful that a defense lawyer for a Catholic nun would betray a child sex abuse victim like this. It's hard enough for men and women who were assaulted as kids by clerics to come forward. This kind of egregious misconduct makes it even harder.
We are grateful that the Wisconsin Supreme Court has disciplined Kostich and we hope that Wisconsin judges watch his future behavior carefully in case he breaches ethics in other ways.
We're especially grateful to this brave victim, who helped expose and prosecute a child molesting cleric, and then went further, helping to expose and prosecute an unethical lawyer.
Someday, we hope Wisconsin citizens and Catholics will learn just how this unethical lawyer and this predatory nun found one another.
(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, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])
Wis. attorney who defended nun reprimanded
Dec 21, 2010 at 9:30 AM CST
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin attorney who defended a nun convicted of sexually abusing two teenage boys has been reprimanded and fined for also initially representing one of the victims.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Tuesday reprimanded attorney Nikola Kostich for what it called an egregious conflict of interest.
Kostich defended Norma Giannini, a nun who was sentenced in February 2008 to one year in jail for sexually abusing two teens at St. Patrick's School in Milwaukee in the 1960s.
Before representing Giannini, Kostich met with one of the victims who described the abuse and turned over medical records. Kostich declined to take his case, but then represented the nun.
Kostich did not immediately return a message Tuesday seeking comment.
Court reprimands lawyer over conflict
In a case of what it called egregious conflict of interest, the state Supreme Court has publicly reprimanded a Milwaukee lawyer who represented a nun charged with sexual battery years after consulting with one her victims.
Nikola Kostich must also pay more than $9,700 in costs and take 10 hours of ethics instruction over the next year, the court ruled Tuesday.
Kostich had argued that he had never really agreed to represent the victim but had only done a preliminary interview and research when the victim inquired about bringing a civil suit against the nun, Norma Giannini, in 2007. Kostich determined the statute of limitations prevented such a suit at the time.
In 2006, after learning Giannini had been out of state for years, the same victim contacted police and she was charged in December 2006. Kostich took her case without first checking with the victim, who had shared intimate details of his abuse, as well as his therapy records, with Kostich in 1997. The victim objected, then filed a complaint with the Office of Lawyer Regulation.
Giannini eventually was convicted of molesting the victim, and another man, when they were students at a Milwaukee Catholic school in the 1960s.
Kostich argued that he had never signed a retainer agreement with the victim and never opened a formal file. But the court found such acts don't determine the obligation.
"The existence of a lawyer/client relationship is determined principally by the reasonable expectations of the person seeking the lawyer's advice," the court stated.
In a dissenting opinion, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson said she would have ordered a hearing at which the parties could argue why Kostich shouldn't be suspended for 60 days.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests