Abuse Case Aims for Arbitration

Pahrump Valley Times
May 19, 2006

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A civil lawsuit stemming from allegations that a priest abused teenage boys at his Henderson parish is heading for binding arbitration, lawyers in the case said.

Al Massi, attorney for at least six boys who claim they were abused, and Philip Hymanson, attorney for the Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas, said an arbitrator will hear evidence in the case and decide if the plaintiffs are due monetary damages.

"It will be presented just like a nonjury trial," Massi said.

Hymanson declined to discuss specifics but said arbitration was in the best interest of the diocese.

Former priest Mark Roberts, 55, was removed as pastor at St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church in February 2002 and pleaded guilty in January 2003 to criminal lewdness and child abuse charges involving five teens.

Roberts was sentenced in May 2003 to three years of probation and treatment.

The civil lawsuit was a separate action filed in Clark County District Court.

It alleges the church knew Roberts was a danger to parishioners but let him remain in his position. The church has denied the allegations.

A deposition showed Roberts had been accused in the mid-1990s of inappropriately touching a young homeless man he took to an apartment to let him shower and wash his clothes.

Agreeing to arbitration could involve agreeing to a cap on damages and to keeping proceedings confidential until a decision is made, officials said.


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