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CURRENT ISSUE:  March 7, 2005VOL. 43, NO. 5Oakland, CA

Mediation continues in sex abuse lawsuits

As The Voice went to press on March 2, lawyers, plaintiffs and diocesan representatives were trying to settle more than 40 lawsuits brought against the Oakland Diocese for clergy sex abuse. The private negotiations have been taking place for more than two weeks under a court-ordered mediation process.

The first civil trial is scheduled for March 7 in a case involving alleged abuse by Father Robert Ponciroli, former pastor of St. Ignatius Parish in Antioch. Father Ponciroli has been removed from ministry for a number of years.
“Everyone is working hard,” said Father Mark Wiesner, diocesan communications director.

The lawsuits stem from a 2002 state law that lifted for one year the statue of limitations on civil claims for sexual abuse of minors. Several hundred suits filed under the new law were divided into three geographic locations. Clergy I and Clergy II involve cases in Southern California and Clergy III represents the Northern California cases.

Last December the Diocese of Orange settled with 87 victims of alleged abuse for more than $100 million.

Should settlements be reached in the Oakland cases before the next issue of The Voice, the information will be posted at www.catholicvoiceoakland.org





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