Judge Awards Brothers $26 Million in Priest Sex Abuse Case
Attorney: Brothers Unlikely to Receive Money
NBC 4 [Los Angeles CA]
October 17, 2003
LOS ANGELES -- A judge has ordered a priest to pay $26 million to two brothers who said they were sexually abused by him as altar boys, though a lawyer for the two said he doubted they would receive the money.
The brothers, now in their 30s, were previously paid $4.2 million by the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino and the missionary group which ordained the priest, Edward Ball.
But William Light, attorney for the brothers, said the new award ordered by Superior Court Judge Bob Krug on Wednesday was unlikely to result in additional money.
"Of all the vows that Father Ball took -- chastity, obedience and poverty -- it appears he actually kept only one: poverty," Light said. However, he added: "It's a moral victory, which doesn't make it an empty victory."
The brothers, identified in court documents as Troy T. and David T., alleged that Ball molested them thousands of times at a local church from about 1979 to 1986. Ball, 64, was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading no contest in 1999 to 31 counts of child molestation related to the brothers. He was released after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state law allowing criminal prosecution of decades-old molestation offenses.
The diocese did not admit any wrongdoing or negligence as part of their previous civil agreement, but after Wednesday's decision, a spokesman called Ball's abuse "reprehensible, tragic and unconscionable."
"While we were not a party to this (civil) action, we hope this ruling helps bring closure to the brothers," said the spokesman, the Rev. Howard Lincoln.
Ball did not appear to defend himself during the civil trial and the Los Angeles Times could not reach him for comment.
Meanwhile, two people who said they were abused by a priest sent letters to the Diocese of Stockton asking it to withdraw legal challenges to their civil lawsuit so that "the courts (are) able to hear our cases and render justice based on the merits."
The letter from Daniel Howard and Cristin Perez requests that church lawyers drop their challenge to the constitutionality of a law allowing some civil lawsuits related to decades-old sexual abuse.
Other letters sent to area dioceses by alleged victims of clergy abuse, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, ask church leaders not to challenge the law.
"It sends a terrible message to sexual abuse survivors, and Catholics across California, that a Catholic bishop is more concerned with legal maneuvering and overturning a strong public mandate instead of working with survivors to provide prevention, justice and health," said a letter delivered Wednesday to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Attorney Paul Balestracci, representing the Diocese of Stockton, has challenged the law that temporarily suspends the statute of limitations for civil cases. Balestracci called the law a "substantial infringement on the courts" and said it was unconstiutional. He filed a motion to dismiss a case by the brother and sister who alleged they were molested by the Rev. Oliver O'Grady.
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