Molest Victim Granted New Civil Trial against Catholic Diocese

Bakersfield Now
January 12, 2012

A man who was molested by his priest as a boy is getting a new civil trial against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno.

In an earlier trial, it was found that the priest had molested many children, but because of the statute of limitations, the Diocese wasn't liable. Brothers George and Howard Santillan were molested for years, starting in 1959, by their priest Monsenior Anthony Herdegen.

In 2009, the Santillan brothers took their case to court. During that trial it was proved that Herdegen had molested them and other children. However, the jury found that the Diocese had no knowledge of the abuse and therefore wasn't responsible.

But during jury deliberations, another victim stepped forward, claiming to have new evidence that the church actually did know about the abuse sometime after 1965. It's this evidence that got an appeals court to agree with a lower court's ruling that there should be a new civil trial for Howard Santillan.

"The abuse continued with them for years, and many other kids from the 1960s to the 1990s. The more tragic thing is that it was concealed repeatedly by all the bishops for more than 35 years," said Santillan's attorney Jeff Anderson.

Anderson hopes to get this case in front of a judge as soon as possible, but Howard will be the only one going back to court. Because of a legal technicality, George Santillan, who was molested until 1965, was not granted a new trial.








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