Calif. Priest, Victim Agree to $16 Million Settlement in Molestation Case

By Terence Chea
Associated Press
November 25, 2003

San Francisco - A Roman Catholic priest has agreed to pay $16 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who said he was molested more than 20 years ago, the victim's lawyer said Tuesday.

Whether the Rev. Robert Freitas, 58, has the money was unclear.

Additionally, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland agreed to pay $1 million plus $50,000 to provide counseling for the victim, Mark Bogdanowicz.

"He's pleased that both the diocese and the priest have acknowledged what was done to him," said Bogdanowicz' lawyer, Larry Drivon.

The settlement was reached Monday, concluding a civil trial that began Nov. 10. Diocese spokeswoman Sister Barbara Flannery said the diocese's insurer will pay the $1 million to the victim.

Efforts to reach Freitas through the diocese and Alameda County Superior Court were unsuccessful. He represented himself during the trial.

Freitas, an inactive cleric, "will not ever resume any kind of ministry in the church," Flannery said.

Bogdanowicz, 38, is a former Navy SEAL and Gulf War veteran who also has worked in the airline industry, Drivon said.

The alleged abuse occurred several times in 1979 when Bogdanowicz was 15 and Freitas was serving at Santa Paula Catholic Church in Fremont. Bogdanowicz first told his mother about the abuse in 2001.

Freitas was arrested in 2002 following a police investigation. Freitas later pleaded guilty to one count of child molestation and was sentenced to six months in prison, Drivon said.

The church sex abuse scandal erupted that year in Boston, quickly spreading nationwide.

In June, the Supreme Court struck down a California law that permitted prosecution of child molesters within a year of reporting the abuse, no matter when the crime was committed. The ruling threw out hundreds of convictions for molestations, including Freitas'.


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