High Court Says Family Can't Sue Oakland Bishop for Alleged Sexual Abuse by Hayward Priest in 1970s
March 29, 2012
The California Supreme Court today rejected a bid by six brothers to sue the Roman Catholic Bishop of Oakland for alleged sexual abuse by their parish priest in Hayward in the 1970s.
The court, in a ruling issued in San Francisco, said by a 5-2 vote that the brothers' lawsuit did not fit into exceptions allowed by the Legislature for lawsuits filed against employers of abusers by adults who discover psychological harm long after the abuse allegedly occurred.
The brothers — Terry, Ronald, Michael, Jerry, Gordon and Tony Quarry — were between the ages of 43 and 49 when they filed their lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court in 2007.
They alleged that the late Father Donald Broderson, who was associate pastor of the St. Joachim Parish in Hayward, sexually abused and molested them by grabbing, fondling and kissing them and engaging in other inappropriate conduct in 1972 and 1973.
Some of the brothers were serving as altar boys at the time.
They said in their lawsuit that they discovered in 2006, after talking to a mental health practitioner, that the alleged abuse was the cause of their adult psychological problems.
The lawsuit sought to hold the bishop responsible for failing to take steps to protect children despite knowing or having reason to know that Broderson had engaged in illegal sexual conduct before being assigned to the parish.
The bishop at the time was Floyd Begin, who served from the time the Diocese of Oakland was created in 1962, when it was separated from the Archdiocese of San Francisco, until his death in 1977. The current bishop is Salvatore Cordileone.
The high court overturned a 2009 state Court of Appeal ruling that would have allowed the brothers to have a trial on their lawsuit.