Local Pastor Sued for Alleged Intimidation

By David Ryan
Napa Valley Register
September 23, 2006

An organization supporting victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy is suing a Napa priest, accusing him of using the court system to intimidate it.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court last week accusing Monsignor Joseph Alzugaray, the pastor of Napa's St. Apollinaris Catholic Church, of malicious prosecution when Alzugaray's lawyers filed a defamation suit against them in 2004.

That suit stemmed from SNAP's publicity of a 2003 lawsuit filed against the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles by Erin Brady, a Southern California woman who charged that recovered memories of her childhood revealed Alzugaray had molested her during the 1960s.

Alzugaray's defamation suit targeted Brady, SNAP and Brady's lawyers. A Los Angeles County judge later tossed out much of the defamation suit, awarding SNAP $120,000 in legal fees.

"With some reluctance, we thought we had no choice given the hardball legal tactics used by abusive priests and complicit bishops," said David Clohessy, SNAP's national director.

Fred Woocher, SNAP's Santa Monica-based attorney, said Alzugaray never paid the award for attorney's fees, and the group is seeking those — plus interest — and certain "internal costs" associated with defending itself in court.

"He's refused to even respond to all inquiries about payment," Woocher said.

Neither Alzugaray nor his lawyer, Los Angeles-based Neil Papiano, returned phone calls regarding this article.


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