Diocese of Fresno Cleared in Wasco Abuse Case

Associated Press, carried in San Jose Mercury News
April 3, 2009

FRESNO, Calif.—A jury says the Diocese of Fresno is not liable for one of its priests who molested two brothers.

The Fresno County Superior Court jury ruled Friday that even though Monsignor Anthony Herdegen molested George and Howard Santillan in their hometown of Wasco from 1959-73, the diocese had no reason to know about it and doesn't have to pay the brothers anything.

The brothers sued the diocese for $20 million in 2003 under a one-year window that temporarily lifted the statute of limitations on old abuse claims in California.

Barbara Dorris of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, who called it the verdict "a heartbreaking decision."

Witnesses included Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, who said the church then viewed pedophilia by priests as "a spiritual failure."


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