Groundbreaking Federal Court Decision:
Catholic Church Officials Subject to
Alien Tort Statute
Judge of the United States District
Court (Eastern California) says rape and sexual abuse of children and a conspiracy
to cover-up those crimes by Mexican and United States-based Cardinals are
actionable as “crimes against humanity” and
“…cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment” under the Alien Tort Statute.
(Los Angeles, CA) In
a groundbreaking decision, a Federal judge in California today denied a motion
by attorneys for the Catholic Church to dismiss a lawsuit based on a unique
international law against two Cardinals and a priest for their roles in the
sexual abuse of a Mexican man as a boy in 1997, saying the plaintiff has
sufficiently plead rape and sexual abuse of children as “…cruel, inhuman, and
degrading treatment” and crimes against humanity.
The case, filed in April, 2010 by attorneys Jeff Anderson
and Anthony DeMarco, named as defendants American Cardinal Roger Mahony. the
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles and Cardinal Norberto Rivera and Father
Nicholas Aguilar Rivera of the Diocese of Tehuacan in Mexico.
Using the international law-based Alien Tort Statute
(“ATS”), a Mexican man, identified in the lawsuit as “Juan Doe I”
alleges that, in 1997 , when he was twelve-years old, he was sexually abused by
Fr. Aguilar and that this abuse occurred because the other Defendants’
conspired to conceal the previous widespread sexual abuse of children committed
by Fr. Aguilar.
The lawsuit was the first to use the Alien Tort Statute to
litigate a clergy sexual abuse. Normally the ATS is used in cases of torture
and other international crimes against humanity.
Jeff Anderson, one of the attorneys for the Plaintiff called
the decision “a defining moment in the effort to hold church officials
accountable for what is clearly an international tragedy.”
Attorney Anthony DeMarco added that it is “a tremendous
victory, not only for our client, a courageous survivor, but also for the
dozens of children that were abused by Fr. Nicholas Aguilar Rivera and for the
children worldwide who have been victims of the institutionally orchestrated
conspiracy to conceal and cover up child sex abuse and rape.”
Jeff Anderson: 651.227.9990 (Office) 612.817.8665
Los Angeles Attorney Anthony DeMarco: 310.927.9277
Sarah Odegaard: 651.227.9990