Judge Dismisses Part of Nuisance Suit Filed by Clergy Abuse Victim

City News Service

April 24, 2019

A Los Angeles judge dismissed part of a nuisance lawsuit alleging that Catholic clergy have concealed decades of child sexual abuse, court papers obtained Wednesday show.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michelle Williams Court issued her ruling April 17 after having previously taken plaintiff Thomas Emens’ case under submission following oral arguments.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles issued a statement regarding the ruling.

“In this case, the court looked at eight instances of disclosure or non-disclosure of information that were alleged to create a nuisance,” the statement read. “She found that five of them were an attack on the right of free speech. She also found that those five instances involving protected speech were invalid because Emens could not show the existence of a nuisance and they were dismissed.”

Because the judge left the other three matters open to further proceedings, the Archdiocese, the California Catholic Conference and other California dioceses are considering whether to appeal her decision on those three instances, according to the statement.

Emens maintains he suffered emotional distress as a result of clergy abuse. But according to the judge’s ruling, Emens failed to show his emotional distress was different from that felt by other victims of Catholic clergy abuse, by parents who let their children interact with priests without supervision or from Catholics in general.

“As plaintiff has not established a probability of prevailing on the merits in his causes of action for private nuisance and public nuisance, his civil conspiracy cause of action also fails,” Court wrote. Emens’ attorney, Jeff Anderson, said he had not yet seen the ruling.

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