Covid delays Riverside clergy-abuse suit v. LA archdiocese and San Bernardino diocese

Los Angeles Daily News / City News Service

July 6, 2020

Citing the coronavirus, a judge said Monday that trial of a case brought against an archdiocese and a diocese by plaintiffs who allege they were sexually abused by a priest more than 25 years ago will not go forward as scheduled in October and instead be delayed for five months.

“Our world is a different place than it was when we last spoke,” Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Sotelo told attorneys in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused all but a few civil case matters to be put on hold from early March until June 22.

Sotelo, presiding over a status conference, rescheduled the trial from Oct. 6 to March 2, 2021. By the time a jury is impaneled, the lawsuit may no longer include the accused priest, the Rev. Carlos Rene Rodriguez, as a defendant.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Anthony M. De Marco stated in a report to the court that he has been unable to locate the clergyman and that the defendant likely has little or no money, so De Marco has decided to drop him from the case.

De Marco stated in his court papers that the decision is “without prejudice,” meaning it could be reversed later if circumstances warrant.

The two plaintiffs are identified only as John R.R. Doe and John R.F. Doe. In February 2018, they sued the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Diocese of San Bernardino, as well as the Congregation of the Mission Western Province, which conducts religious education and activities.

The plaintiffs allege they were abused by Rodriguez when he was assigned to a Riverside parish that was part of the San Bernardino diocese, which is formally known as the Roman Catholic Bishop of San Bernardino. The parish is not identified in their suit.

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