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Lawsuit by Mexican claiming clergy sex abuse can be heard in U.S., federal judge rules

A federal judge in Los Angeles ruled Monday that a Mexican man who claims he was the victim of sexual abuse by a priest and a church conspiracy to conceal it can bring his lawsuit in U.S. federal court.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Josephine S. Tucker was the first clergy sex abuse case to gain a foothold in federal court under a little-used law that allows foreigners to bring human rights abuse claims here when the courts in their homeland have failed to provide relief.

The Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789 was designed to provide a forum for resolving claims of "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment," and the abuses alleged by the Mexican plaintiff are covered by the statute, the judge ruled.

Lawyers for the alleged victim identified only as Juan Doe 1 hailed the ruling by Tucker, a recent appointee of President Obama, as "groundbreaking" and cause for hope that pedophile priests in other countries may still be brought to justice.

"This gives hope to those abused in other countries by priests transferred internationally that they can finally do something about it," said Anthony DeMarco, the Beverly Hills attorney representing the plaintiff, who was 12 years old at the time he alleges he was raped by Father Nicholas Aguilar Rivera in the Diocese of Tehuacan.

Aguilar was transferred to Los Angeles in 1987 and has been accused of at least 26 sexual assaults during the nine months he spent in the archdiocese, the lawsuit claims.

A lawyer for the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Michael Hennigan, dismissed any significance to Tucker's ruling. He said the judge was simply saying that church officials need to take a different approach to challenging the lawsuit and that she would eventually determine it was without merit.

-- Carol J. Williams

Comments () | Archives (13)

MAHONY, just cant get a break. I guess it is true, everything done in the dark will come to light.

Can I sue Mexico for abusing my tax dollars to subsidize their peasants?

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.

David Clohessy, Director, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, (7234 Arsenal Street, St. Louis MO 63143), 314 566 9790 cell (SNAPclohessy@aol.com)

Roger Mahony thought he had buried all the pedophile claims.

Hey, that's just great. So now America can afford to prosecute foreign cases. Who do you think is going to pay for this foreign justice? What the heck is wrong with our decision makers. Oh, I know, it's not their money they are spending, just the taxpayers.

I sure hope the US isn't going to pay a cent of our taxes on this case. Let Mexico pay all of it. Maybe he should take his case to a world court. Why should the US get stuck with this?

"A lawyer for the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Michael Hennigan, dismissed any significance to Tucker's ruling. He said the judge was simply saying that church officials need to take a different approach to challenging the lawsuit and that she would eventually determine it was without merit."

This is by far the most outrageous, callous, uncaring statement coming from the LA Archdiocese yet..!! Hopefully this new ruling will bring justice to victims and hold ALL criminals accountable.

..and Mahony claims to care about victims and protecting children.

If anyone.has knowledge or has been harmed by a priest, employee, bishop, etc. in the LA diocese, please contact police officials, not church officials. Sex crimes, however old, should be investigated by the independent professionals in law enforcement, not the biased amateurs in church offices.

Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, 636-433-2511
"Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests"

Juan Doe smells pesos in the air, and so do the lawyers of course.

Here they go, the L.A. Archdiocese trying any legal method to derail any type of justice. Makes you really wonder what is this church really about. One thing for sure, it's not in the interest of the people it should be serving.

They can run but they can't hide!!!

This is a great victory for this victim and many victims of clergy abuse.

Hopefully this predator priest and all who enabled, empowered, and covered up these sex crimes against innocent kids will be held accountable.

Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, 636-433-2511
SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests"

Thanks SNAP for bringing this to the US. I don't condone what happened to Jaun Dough, but why should we have to pay because international perverts get transferred to the US.

Question, why is the man (victim) called Juan Doe? Why does the name change from John Doe to Juan Doe just because he is Mexican? I am Mexican American and it offends me a bit. I would be offended if they called me Juanita Joe, instead of Jane Doe just because I'm Mexican American. FYI: Thats racial profiling.


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