California Bishops Seek to Overturn Court’s Ruling Granting Abuse Survivor’s Right to Proceed with Nuisance Case

(Los Angeles, CA) – Notices of Appeal have been filed by Defendants The California Catholic Conference, Inc., The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, and The Roman Catholic Bishop of San Diego seeking to overturn Honorable Michelle Williams Court’s April 17, 2019 order allowing a sexual abuse survivor’s nuisance lawsuit to proceed. This attempt to stifle the courageous action brought by Tom Emens, on behalf of children and survivors of abuse across the State, to eliminate the ongoing harm and threat of childhood sexual abuse by clerics is a blatant attempt to silence survivors and keep hidden their long-held secrets.

“This is yet another example of the heavy handed legal tactics used by Church authorities against the very survivors they have harmed,” said Attorney Mike Reck. “Anything short of full transparency and accountability flies in the face of the child protection movement, provides no healing for survivors, and does nothing to protect children today. This is a blatant attempt to keep their closeted secrets confidential.”

In the case of Thomas Emens v. The California Catholic Conference, Inc., et al., 11 of the Roman Catholic Dioceses in California are named as defendants. The Los Angeles Superior Court of California rejected the Defendants’ attempt to preclude Emens, from proceeding with his claims for Conspiracy and Nuisance against the Defendants for their maintenance of an ongoing hazard and present danger throughout the State of California. Recognizing the compelling public interest presented by this case, the Court rejected Defendants’ wholesale challenge to Emens’ Complaint.

On April 17, 2019, Honorable Michelle Williams Court, found that “[m]atters concerning priests abusing children and the Church’s handling of the victims and abusers are matters of public interest” and further, that the majority of the allegations in Emens’ Complaint “do not involve the right of free speech or petition. There is no right to conceal sexual assaults from authorities. Protecting abusers from criminal prosecution is neither free speech nor petition. Making affirmative representations of the fitness of priests for assignments which included working with children while concealing information regarding the sexual misconduct of those priests is not an issue of free speech, but an issue of false speech.” The Court ordered Defendants to answer Emens’ Complaint by May 10, 2019.