Two L.A. Courts to Hear Sex Charges against Napa Priest

By David Ryan [California]
September 23, 2004

Accusations of sexual molestation against a Napa priest will likely be tried in two courts at two different trials in Los Angeles County, following a ruling by a Los Angeles judge Monday.

Judge Jon Mayeda threw out a libel suit filed by Monsignor Joseph F. Alzugaray against Beverly Hills law firm Kiesel, Boucher & Larson. Alzugaray sued the firm for filing a lawsuit naming him, which was posted on the firm's Web site. Although Alzugaray was not named as a defendant in the suit, his name appeared in a description of alleged misconduct against Pasadena resident Erin Brady. In May, Mayeda ruled that a similar suit against the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests was also frivolous.

Alzugaray, head of St. Apollinaris Catholic Church, claims in court papers filed in Los Angeles that Brady's memories of sexual abuse are based on erroneous and controversial repressed memory flashbacks 26 years after the alleged abuse occurred. He also claims Brady has a history of psychiatric problems and emotional instability. Alzugaray is seeking unspecified damages.

Brady is the last defendant remaining in the libel suit case, but Anthony De Marco, one of Brady's attorneys at Kiesel, Boucher & Larson, said Brady will not file a motion to dismiss the case. Instead, Brady is seeking to answer the priest's libel complaint by calling up witnesses in deposition and at trial.

Brady filed a civil suit against Alzugaray in December as one of 17 alleged victims of child abuse by various clerics of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The case claims Alzugaray and 26 other priests used their positions in the church hierarchy to create an environment that protected child molesters.

In a December interview, Brady said Alzugaray molested her during a three-year period starting in 1967, when she was an 8-year-old student attending the Immaculate Conception School in Monrovia. She is the only one to make a claim against Alzugaray. She said she repressed memories of the abuse for decades, despite repeated "triggers" -- like the sight of men with curly, dark hair or men smoking pipes -- that still send her into panic attacks.

Neil Papiano, Alzugaray's Los Angeles-based attorney, has said he believed Brady was tagging along with other alleged victims.

"It's just a strange situation when somebody jumps on a bandwagon," he said. "She and SNAP are ruining a man's reputation for no reason."

Papiano did not return phone calls Tuesday.

De Marco said that after Mayeda's May ruling against Alzugaray, the priest's lawyers filed a motion to remove Mayeda from the case. An Orange County Court ruled Mayeda could still rule on the remaining issues in the case.

"It appeared to be another frivolous move in this case by Mr. Alzugaray's attorneys," De Marco said.

As for the Brady civil suit, De Marco said both sides seem to be far from a settlement.

"There are no settlements to speak of and the parties look like they're on litigation paths," he said. "This case may be proven in two courtrooms because of Mr. Alzugaray's suit."


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