Judge Reinstates Civil Suit against Diocese
By Mary Beth Smetzer
Fairbanks News Miner [Alaska]
April 29, 2006
Lawyers will again argue a civil case that was dismissed in February against the Fairbanks Catholic Diocese and the Society of Jesus.
Nome Superior Court Judge Ben Esch, responding to motions filed by the attorneys of Jane Doe 2 after the dis.missal, is asking attorneys on both sides to meet and set a date to hear ar.guments between May 30 and June 16.
"We are all thrilled," said Anchorage attorney Ken Roosa, who with California attorney John Manly represent the plaintiff.
"We lost our case and he (Esch) is giving us a chance to put life back into it."
Jane Doe 2 sued the diocese and the Jesuits, alleging that the two institutions were negligent in protecting her when she was a minor from repeated sexual abuse by the Rev. James Poole, a Jesuit priest and founder of Nome radio station KNOM.
Poole was part of the original civil lawsuit, but Esch severed him from the case in December, ruling Jane Doe 2 waited too long to report the alleged sexual abuse.
Ronnie Rosenberg, spokesperson for the diocese, doesn't find the judge's decision to hear oral arguments unusual, calling it "another part of the civil procedure that is provided for in the rules of procedure."
However, the case is significant, Rosenberg said, not only for Jane Doe 2 but for a lot of other people with pending claims.
"So he (Esch) is allowing people to do what is provided for in the rules," she said.
In the February dismissal, Esch wrote that Doe should have lodged her claims against the diocese and Jesuits within the time frame of the state's statute of limitations. The dismissal stands to affect more than 100 claims of sexual abuse of a minor in Alaska.
In March, Roosa and Manly asked Esch to withhold judgment, penalize the Jesuits and reconsider his ruling to dismiss the case.
The lawyers contended the ruling to dismiss the case was made with "a false and misleading record before it," and that the Jesuits and their counsel "willfully manipulated" and denied Jane Doe 2 access to thousands and thousands of e-mails, a privileged e-mail log and notebooks used by the Rev. John Whitney, provincial of the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus.
Whitney was not available for comment.
Robert Groseclose, an attorney for the diocese, said a motion for reconsideration is authorized in all cases, but that reconsideration is the exception rather than the rule.
Mary Beth Smetzer can be reached at email@example.com or 459-7546.
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