The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Wednesday, May 11, 2011
No punitive damages vs. Orange diocese; SNAP responds
Statement by Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach CA, western regional director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (949 322 7434, [email protected])
We’re disappointed that there’s no possibility for punitive damages against Catholic officials in this case. Punitive damages can help deter recklessness, callousness and deceit in child sex abuse and cover up situations.
Still, we’re grateful that this brave victim has found the strength to seek justice and the wisdom to turn to courts, not the church hierarchy, to expose the truth, warn parents and protect kids.
Even though Krumm and Manville haven’t yet been criminally charged, we hope they will be and believe they can be.
We hope that every person who saw, suspected or suffered these priests’ crimes will find the courage and strength to speak up, call police, expose wrongdoing, protect kids and start healing.
(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 23 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])
Published: May 11, 2011 - Updated: 9:02 a.m.
Judge: No punitive damages in priest abuse case
SANTA ANA – Defense attorneys in a clergy-abuse lawsuit have won a key ruling ahead of an upcoming trial, with a judge saying there isn't enough evidence for plaintiffs to seek punitive damages for sexual misconduct that was alleged to have occurred in a Huntington Beach parish in the early 1990s.
The civil complaint against Gus Krumm, a former Franciscan friar and priest who has admitted to instances of abuse in the 1970s and 1980s elsewhere, and the Rev. Alexander Manville is set for a jury trial in Orange County Superior Court in July.
The lawsuit, filed in 2009, accuses Krumm and Manville of sexual misconduct during 1992-94 when the two were priests at Sts. Simon and Jude Catholic Church in Huntington Beach.
While attorneys for the two plaintiffs in the lawsuit downplayed the recent ruling by Judge Nancy Wieben Stock, attorneys for Krumm, Manville and the Franciscan Friars of California said the ruling proves the lawsuit is weak.
"We appreciate the fact that the court took a close look at the evidence in the case, and that meant the motion had to be denied," said Brian P. Brosnahan, an attorney for the Franciscan Friars.
"Plaintiff's claims are not true, and they are not supported by the evidence," Brosnahan said.
H. Shaina Colover, an attorney for the two plaintiffs – brothers who attended Sts. Simon and Jude – said her legal team still is collecting evidence, and that she plans to file another motion to seek punitive damages at trial.
"Clearly, this issue isn't over," Colover said.
For now, the plaintiffs are pursuing general damages for allegations of sexual battery, negligence and other causes of action.
According to Colover, the abuse started with Manville performing "bogus medical exams" on the boys – activity that escalated to rape.
In her March 30 ruling, Wieben Stock wrote that the plaintiffs did not meet their burden of proof for the right to pursue punitive damages. The judge said proof has not been presented of actual abuse, including the dates it is alleged to have occurred.
Krumm served as an associate pastor at Sts. Simon and Jude from July 1988 to September 1998. As pastor from 1982 to 1994, Manville was Krumm's supervisor for six years.
The lawsuit against the two former priests is one of the latest in a string of civil complaints alleging clergy sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, which made headlines in 2005 when the diocese agreed to pay $100 million to settle lawsuits brought by 90 sex-abuse complainants.
In a high-profile settlement in 2006, the Franciscan Friars of California agreed to pay $28.5 million to plaintiffs in 25 separate sex-abuse lawsuits against Krumm and eight other friars.
Krumm and Manville have never been criminally charged.
The Orange County lawsuit also names the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange. The lawsuit alleges that church officials knew of Krumm's past admitted sexual misconduct but did nothing to stop him from being around children at the Huntington Beach school and parish.
Both Krumm and Manville lived at the infamous St. Anthony's Seminary in Santa Barbara before coming to Orange County.
St. Anthony's, which closed in 1987 for financial reasons, was a notorious breeding ground for priests who sexually abused minors, according to a 1993 independent board of inquiry report that identified 34 victims of sexual abuse by 10 friars and one friar in training.
Brosnahan said the Franciscan Friars have been forthright in their efforts to atone for past instances of sexual abuse and that the Orange County lawsuit has no merit.
Colover said the Franciscan Friars have routinely attacked the credibility of survivors of sexual abuse even after reaching settlements with them, and that she is not surprised at them dismissing the merits of the Orange County lawsuit.
Krumm no longer is a priest and reportedly is working for the state in Sacramento.
Manville was living as a non-practicing priest at Sts. Simon and June when the lawsuit was filed, and now is believed to be living in a retreat house.
A pretrial hearing is set for May 24, with a jury trial scheduled for July 11.
Contact the writer: 714-704-3764 or [email protected]
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests