News in Brief from California's North Coast

The Associated Press, carried in Dateline Alabama [California]
July 6, 2005

Lack of insurance coverage is stalling resolution of the last of 10 child sex abuse lawsuits facing Santa Rosa's Catholic Diocese.

The diocese has agreed to pay $10.6 million to settle nine of the lawsuits filed in 2002 and 2003 alleging sexual misconduct by three North Coast priests.

If attorneys for the plaintiff, a 27-year-old Chicago man, and the diocese can't work out a settlement, the case would be the only one to go to a jury trial, possibly before the end of the year.

Lawyers for the plaintiff and the diocese agree that the final lawsuit involves a single incident of fondling, allegedly by former priest Gary Timmons, in 1989.

Timmons, a convicted sex offender and defrocked priest, was serving at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Rohnert Park at the time, according to the lawsuit.

Katherine Freberg, of Irvine, the plaintiff's attorney, said that after more than a year of settlement talks the two sides have "not made any real progress."

Freberg said she is preparing for trial and on July 22 will ask the Oakland judge handling Northern California's church sex abuse cases to set a trial date.

Dan Galvin, the diocese attorney, said he still hopes to settle the case, but characterized the plaintiff's demand as "unreasonable."