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A Defining Moment for Child Protection: Federal Judge Allows Alien Tort Case to Proceed

2/28/2011 1:26:00 PM
Sarah Odegaard
TheCA_central district court house.jpgThe U.S. District Court for the Central District of California issued an unprecedented opinion today allowing our client’s case using the Alien Tort Statute to go forward.  You can find the entire text of the opinion on our site.  In denying Defendant Cardinal Roger Mahony’s and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the Court permitted Plaintiff’s case, brought under the Alien Tort Statute, to move forward.  This groundbreaking decision allows Plaintiff to bring his lawsuit under a little known federal law, the Alien Tort Statute, which permits aliens to sue in United States federal court for torts committed in violation of customary international law.  The Court held that the Alien Tort Statute allows Plaintiff, an alien, to bring claims in federal court for rape and sexual abuse by Fr. Nicholas Aguilar, crimes against humanity, torture, cruel inhuman and degrading treatment, and conspiracy, based on Fr. Aguilar’s rape and sexual abuse of Plaintiff and Cardinal Mahony’s, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’, Cardinal Rivera of Mexico’s, and Diocese of Tehuacan in Mexico’s, conspiracy to conceal and not report the criminal conduct of Fr. Aguilar.   As Anthony DeMarco, our co-counsel on the case, put it: “this momentous decision is a tremendous victory not only for our client, a courageous survivor, but also for the dozens of children that were abused by Fr. Nicholas Aguilar Rivera and for the children worldwide who have been victims of the institutionally orchestrated conspiracy to conceal and cover up child sex abuse.”  This is certainly a landmark day for child protection and an important step towards holding those accountable who have orchestrated and perpetuated a worldwide effort to conceal and cover up the rape and abuse of innocent children.