Jury Selection Completed in Priest Abuse Trial

By Sean O'Sullivan
News Journal
November 9, 2009

WILMINGTON — Jury selection was completed today in the civil trial against the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales by former Salesianum student James Sheehan, who alleges that he was sexually abused by a now-deceased priest at the school in 1962.

The process to select 12 jurors and four alternates, before Superior Court Judge Calvin L. Scott Jr., began around 11 a.m. and was completed before 3 p.m.

Opening arguments in the case are set for 9:30 a.m. next Monday.

This case of alleged priest abuse is one of the few brought under the Delaware Child Victims Act of 2007 that was not affected by the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington filing for bankruptcy because the defendant is a religious order, which is separate from the diocese.

Sheehan originally named the diocese as a defendant as well but he reached a settlement with the diocese out of court last month, pending approval by a bankruptcy judge.

The civil lawsuit alleges gross negligence by the religious order for allowing the late Rev. Francis L. Norris into a classroom and seeks damages.


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