September 5, 2012
On heels of new court ruling Sacramento County woman sues
Santa Fe Springs Catholic school and LA Archdiocese
New lawsuit alleges priest raped her while she was student at
St. Paul Catholic High School in the 1980’s
Recent California Appeals Court ruling on insurance code law
gives new hope to victims of child sex abuse
(Los Angeles, CA) A recent California Court of Appeals ruling has allowed a Sacramento County woman who was raped by a priest in the 1980’s to file a lawsuit today against the school where the priest was assigned and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. It is expected that the ruling is likely to have significant implications for a great many victims of child sexual abuse, giving them new hope for justice in California courts.
The woman, identified in the lawsuit as Jane Doe SS, charges she was raped on the grounds of St. Paul Catholic High School in Santa Fe Springs by Father Michael Nocita. The abuse occurred for several years starting in 1980, even though church and school officials had received reports of Nocita sexually molesting other female students during previous assignments.
In 1988, after suffering years of self-mutilation, depression and also an attempted suicide, Doe SS told Nocita that she needed counseling. By this time, in spite of the reports of his sexual misconduct, Nocita had been promoted to principal at Alemany High School in Mission Hills. Nocita directed her to go to Los Angeles Archdiocese communications director Father Joseph Battaglia to receive counseling. Subsequently, Battaglia told Doe SS that Nocita did what he did because he loved her and that she should not to report the abuse to anyone.
In 2003, Doe SS made a complaint to the Los Angeles Archdiocese that Nocita had sexually molested her as a student. The Archdiocese response was to arrange and pay for psychological counseling.
However, as was the case in the recent appeals court ruling (John ME Doe v. Defendant Doe 1), because the counseling was paid for by the church, the law provides for a tolling of the statute of limitations from the time of the payment until written notice is given to the victim of the applicable statute of limitations or the victim hires a lawyer to pursue their claim. In both cases, written notice was not given and because Jane Doe SS retained attorneys to handle her case only two weeks ago, the statute of limitation is no longer an impediment to making a claim for abuse she suffered in the 1980’s.
Anthony M. De Marco, one of the attorneys representing John ME Doe and the plaintiff in this current case, said “the ruling makes it very clear that in these situations the Church has a legal responsibility to advise victims of abuse that they have a limited time to file a lawsuit. Indeed, Church officials were often very good at manipulating victims into “counseling” while the bishops were covering up for their priests in order to avoid scandal.”
Jeff Anderson, who along with De Marco represents numerous survivors of clergy abuse in California, says the ruling is significant because “as with Jane Doe SS, there are very likely many victims of clergy abuse in California with similar circumstances and this ruling could very well give them a chance for justice and accountability.”
A copy of the Jane Doe SS complaint and the appeals court case is available at: www.AndersonAdvocates.com or www.AbusedinSocal.com
Contact: Jeff Anderson 651.227.9990 (Office) 612.817.8665 (Mobile)
Contact: Anthony DeMarco 626.844.7700 (Office) 310.927.9277 (Mobile)