Sex Abuse Victims Lose California Appellate Ruling

Author: Joey Piscitelli
Date Published: 03/29/2012
Publication: AlterNet Blog

A major setback for child abuse victims was decided today by the Supreme Appellate Court in San Francisco. This decision will have a crucial effect on not only the plaintiffs in this case, but numerous child sex abuse victims cases throughout the State of California. The legal representative of the plaintiffs in this case was the Zalkin Law Firm of San Diego, California.

Originally, the lawsuit known as “Quarry Doe 1 vs. Oakland Diocese”, case # HG0731364, was initially filed by the Quarry brothers, 6 alleged victims of admitted serial Molester Fr. Don Broderson, a priest who was employed by the Oakland Diocese.

The 6 brothers filed suit in Alameda County Court in 2007 against the Bishop of Oakland, alleging molestation at the hands of Fr. Broderson, but the lower court dismissed the case, stating that the California statute of limitations allowed only a one year window in 2003 to file a claim for sex abuse that was previously barred by the statute. The Bishop of Oakland was represented by Stephen McFeely, of Foley and Lardner, from Los Angeles, California.

The Zalkin firm, representing the Quarry brothers, appealed to the First Appellate court, Division Four, case # A120448 and stated that the California legislature had intended to allow victims who did not make a connection between their earlier sex abuse, and their later after effects of the abuse as adults, to file a lawsuit within 3 years of discovery of that connection. They said the one year window in 2003 did not apply to victims who made a connection to sex abuse after they had reached the age of 26, and were later suffering from the discovered after effects of the abuse. (Civil Code section 340.1)

The First Appellate court agreed with the lawyers representing the Quarry brothers, and overturned the lower courts decision, and reinstated the case. The Bishop of Oakland responded by filing an appeal to the Supreme Appellate Court on August 11, 2009, case # S171382, reiterating it’s claim that the Quarry brothers were barred by the statute of limitations again.

Today the Supreme Court has overturned the lower appellate courts decision, and the 6 Quarry brothers cannot continue their case against the Bishop of Oakland, regarding their alleged molestation by Fr. Broderson. Broderson had previously admitted that he molested the Quarry brothers in a deposition in 2005.

This decision is expected to have far reaching implications, and is being watched carefully by attorneys and Dioceses; and by interested parties that this decision may affect, all over the State. The Supreme Court’s Case Information website lists several “Amicus curiae” or “friends of the court”, who are named, including:

The Boy Scouts of America, The California Association of Private School Organizations, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the Masonic Homes of California, the Order of Carmalites, the Order of the Friar Servants of Mary, the Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, the Roman Catholic Dioceses/Bishops of San Francisco, Sacramento, Stockton, Los Angeles, and several insurance companies.

What is disappointing about this decision to child sex abuse victims- especially in this particular case, is the fact that Fr. Donald Broderson is an admitted sex offender, the church acknowledges he molested the boys; yet the church spent a significant amount of money to have the case dismissed on technicalities concerning that statute of limitations.

The Catholic church has been successful in having numerous cases of clergy child sex abuse tossed out of court on the statute of limitations, which speaks volumes about the the empirical morality of the church, and the real intentions of it’s hierarchy.

The Pope has apologized many times for the actions of abuse by his clergy all over the planet; but actions speak louder than words. As the Roman Catholic church is a multi-billion dollar entity, and the richest church on earth, wouldn’t it seem just and prudent for the Catholic church to compensate known victims who have suffered the long term effects of their negligence? This latest action of the church seems to be a testament to their treatment of those known victims; as this is not a case of repressed memory, or false allegations. This case is not only an admitted case of multiple crimes of clergy abuse by the priest himself, but verification by church officials that the priest was in fact a serial molester – which shreds the question of whether or not the church resists true accountability, and responsibility.

The church is not a winner here- certainly not in a religious sense, and not in a moral sense by any means. It is a participant in the continued abuse of clergy abuse victims,

and a profiteer at the expense of innocent children who have been violated, with the cooperation of a “duly narrow” judgment by a supreme court who has failed to bring justice to the oppressed.

Perhaps the deserved compensation to the 6 unfortunate victims of child sex abuse by the admitted serial molester Fr. Donald Broderson, which should have brought justice and accountability to the forefront, will now be spent on more Golden tiaras, and Prada shoes.

Joey Piscitelli