Cardinal Not in Contempt, Judge Says

By Gillian Flaccus
Associated Press
July 21, 2004

LOS ANGELES - A judge declined Tuesday to hold Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony in contempt of court and deferred a decision on whether to compel the cardinal's testimony about alleged child molestation by a priest he supervised as bishop of Stockton.

Mahony, 68, now heads the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest in the nation.

The contempt motion targeting Mahony was filed June 29 in Alameda County Superior Court by attorneys representing seven plaintiffs. The plaintiffs claim they were abused by Oliver O'Grady, a former priest who worked in the Stockton diocese where Mahony was bishop from 1980 to 1985.

O'Grady was convicted in 1993 of child molestation for his abuse of two brothers. The Stockton diocese also paid the brothers $7.5 million in damages after a 1998 jury trial in which Mahony testified.

Attorneys want to depose Mahony in the latest lawsuits because they believe he knew O'Grady was a pedophile but still transferred and promoted him. Mahony has repeatedly said he has no knowledge of the Stockton cases in question because they occurred in the 1970s, years before he took over as bishop.

The contempt request alleged that Mahony stalled and then canceled a scheduled deposition in April, just one day before a judge halted all proceedings in Northern California molestation cases to make it easier to reach a negotiated settlement.

But Alameda County Judge Ronald Sabraw on Tuesday agreed with archdiocese attorneys when he ruled that Mahony was not in contempt. The stay automatically halted all discovery in the Northern California cases, he ruled, including a previously scheduled deposition.

Sabraw scheduled a Sept. 2 hearing at which he will decide whether to compel Mahony to testify despite the stay order.

Tod Tamberg, spokesman for the Los Angeles archdiocese, applauded Tuesday's ruling, saying it vindicated Mahony. He said Mahony has already given more than 30 hours of testimony on his dealings with O'Grady and has nothing new to offer.


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