At age five, 1954, "the Bishop" (Chicago's Cardinal Stritch) stood over me and said, I had to "stop babbling" about what the priest did to me. It took me 40 years to talk about it again. Today, I babble.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Diocese, the Bishop, and the School are separate entities and other fiction by church attorneys in Santillan vs. Bishop of Fresno

By Kay Ebeling
Creator, City of Angels Blog

One more post here about the Fresno case, for which a new trial was granted June 12th, before we go on to stories about new lawsuits being filed in Los Angeles. My favorite part of the Bishop of Fresno's “Opposition to Plaintiffs’ Motion for New Trial,” quoted in depth below, is from page 9, where the Bishop claims the abuse took place in a parochial school, not the diocese, two totally different entities.

“Plaintiffs erroneously conflate the corporate defendant, The Roman Catholic Bishop of Fresno, A Corporation Sole, with the school. The school is a separate corporate entity - the Diocese of Fresno Education Corporation. Plaintiffs’ attempt to eliminate this distinction by conflating multiple entities through the generic use of the word ‘Diocese,’ does not eliminate their separate corporate existence.”

Don’t you love how church attorneys conflate and de-conflate their corporate entities as needed?

Why didn't plaintiffs find the new witness W Doe before the March trial? According to W Doe's declaration, after he and his mother reported the abuse to the school principal Sister Vidaline, “I was never again scheduled to serve mass. When I asked later why, I was told I would not be attending St. John’s Catholic school much longer. Within a month or two after I complained about Monsignor (Anthony) Herdegen, I was told I was being expelled from St. John’s Catholic school. Nobody could tell me why I was being expelled. Around 1975 or 1976, I moved away from Wasco, never to return.”

Reading the defense brief, I get the sense the church knew more about W Doe than they let on before the first trial. We should know in mid-July the date for the new trial which was granted earlier this month in the Fresno case. Here are direct quotes from Defense Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for New Trial, a motion defense lost, in spite of using the resources of at least two law firms in Fresno and one in Pasadena.

See if you don't agree with me that no matter what the Church Attorneys write here, their clients end up sounding


So much so that while reading some of these quotes, you begin to think you are reading a brief filed by plaintiffs. It must be tough to be a defense attorney with a Roman Catholic bishop for a client-

If you have any conscience….

Opposition to Plaintiffs’ Motion for New Trial

Plaintiffs’ motion for new trial should be denied. The proffered evidence is neither newly discovered, nor material. What is more, plaintiffs have not demonstrated that it “could not” have been discovered with reasonable diligence.

The claim of newly discovered evidence warranting a new trial is universally looked upon by the courts with distrust and disfavor.

The Evidence is not newly discovered

(Here they go through pages arguing that plaintiffs should have jumped in with this evidence and interrupted the jury, who were already deliberating. These arguments don’t even deserve the time to type them in here.)


Five Pages Later:
QUOTES Continued:

The proferred Evidence could have been discovered with reasonable diligence.

Especially Because Plaintiffs were aware of W Doe more than three years before trial.

(Well someone was aware of him, if not plaintiffs)

QUOTES Continued:

The proferred Evidence could have been discovered with reasonable diligence. This is especially so because plaintiffs were aware of W Doe more than three years before trial.

What is more, a reasonably diligent search could have identified W Doe as a witness. As early as February 2006, plaintiffs and their counsel were aware of the identity of W Doe , and that he had been a student at St. John Evangelist School, and that he was close in age to Howard Santillan and his younger brother Leonard Santillan.

W Doe is identified on St. John Evangelist School documents produced in this litigation pursuant to a third party deposition subpoena propounded by defendant and his address and birth date are included.

But plaintiff’s counsel claims the first he heard of W Doe was during jury deliberations. If this is true, it means that plaintiff’s counsel did not consider the materials produced in discovery and their significance.

(I can’t help but wonder here, how much did the diocese - and anyone else in their conflagration of corporate entities - really know about W Doe and when.)


Here is where I think the defense motion starts to sound like it’s written for plaintiffs.


QUOTES Continued:

Numerous indicators pointed to students of St. John, such as W Doe, as sources of evidence. That is because students of the school were more likely to have been abused because of their proximity to the Church and rectory. Even plaintiffs felt that the investigation should focus on the school’s students.

Plaintiffs said that Herdegen acted inappropriately toward and groped many students at St. John’s Evangelist School during school hours while on the school yard, and plaintiffs alleged that Herdegen acted improperly to the school students in advance of and during confession, including fourth, fifth, and sixth graders.

George Santillan said that he saw Herdegen “grab kids on the playground and rub himself. If they were doing something on the playground, he would be out there and he’d be hugging them real close and pulling them up against him and stuff. . . .”

(This is the point where I threw the document across the room when I first read it, as this is the same description I’ve read about priests’ activity in Los Angeles, and Pennsylvania, who knows how many other places they acted like this - and got away with it.)


QUOTES Continued:

Plaintiff’s counsel argued that Herdegen had been doing the same things to “other kids in the school yard at the school. He did it frequently, he did it regularly, and he did it daily. And it would be hugs and it would be gropes.”

George Santillan testified at trial that Herdegen would come out to the school yard “when we were all playing and all the kids would go running up to him and he would grab the kids and pull them in real close and start hugging and so forth. Seemed like he was rubbing himself on them.”

Although the last sentence was stricken from evidence, it still shows the significance of alleged abuse of students at the school and the importance of discovering students as witnesses. Plaintiffs were clearly aware that it was their “classmates” whom Herdegen was allegedly abusing.

Do you see what I mean, that it seems weird that defendants would be pointing out all these crimes.


Quotes, continued:

In Summary, Plaintiffs believed the conduct at the schoolyard was a “red flag.”

Additional indicators point toward discovery directed at the students:

- The number of students of the relevant age during the relevant time period was finite and relatively small; and the number of male students was even smaller. Howard testified in deposition that the only people who knew that Herdegen was molesting children were “boys that were right around my age.”

- Plaintiffs had the school rosters for more than three years before trial, including the rosters that identify W Doe in the same combined class as Howard Santillan and Leonard Santillan.

- Even if the plaintiffs did not want to contact all students, or even just the male students on the roster, it would have been diligent to identify students that both were approximately the same age and those who lived close to the rectory.

The proximity between Herdegen and plaintiffs was an apparent factor that facilitated his abuse of them.

(Did you notice they didn't say alleged abuse, they said “his abuse of them.”)

QUOTES continued:

Howard Santillan claimed the proximity gave Herdegen easy access to the Santillan family - Herdegen could see him outside and call him over. In deposition Howard Santillan even emphasized the proximity factor in recounting the first incident when Herdegen groped him.

(Again, not allegedly, but “when Herdegen groped him.”)

QUOTES Continued:

At trial George confirmed the importance of proximity - when Herdegen first asked him come to the rectory was when he was standing in front of his home.

Did a lawyer write that sentence?

“When Herdegen first asked him come to the rectory was when he was standing in front of his home.”

That's what it says.

- Identification of the former students would have been facilitated because the recorded indicated each student’s date of birth, including that of W Doe, which is data that assists in locating individuals.

- The fact that W Doe apparently contacted plaintiffs’ counsel on his own initiative is indicia that he would have been receptive to solicitation by plaintiffs’ counsel or their investigator during the three year period preceding trial.

Even if plaintiffs were to claim that the new evidence could not have been discovered, the claim is suspect, because plaintiffs were able to locate a number of former seminarians who attended Ryan seminary in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Huh? Apples and oranges? Grasping at straws?


QUOTES Continued:

The implication that the defendant should have produced information about W Doe that may be in the school files should not be well received. Plaintiffs argue that “the Diocese” had access to all the files, and if it did not have information about W Doe’s report, then plaintiffs likewise would hnot have that information. Plaintiffs erroneously conflate the corporate defendant, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Fresno, A Corporate Sole, with the school. As addressed in detail below, the school is a separate corporate entity - the Diocese of Fresno Education Corporation.

Plaintiffs did not raise the evidence before the close of trial, and they offered no explanation for their failure to do so.

More Fiction that is not worth copy typing follows,


QUOTES Continued

The school is a separate corporation from the defendant corporation sole. There is no evidence that the school teachers and principal were employees or agents of the defendant corporation sole.

Martin Scorsese, where are you?

Don’t the following lines sound like, with a little rewriting, they could be dialogue for Robert DeNiro playing a character like he played in Casino?


QUOTES Continued:

Plaintiffs argued that the school is run under the auspices of the bishop, but that does not mean that the education corporation is a subsidiary of the department entity known as the Bishop of Fresno, A Corporation Sole. This distinction is apparent in corporations law, as well as in the questions and answers of the testimony of Cardinal Mahoney (sic) cited by plaintiffs.

First, a corporation sole is a corporation that has only a single member.

There is a distinction, however, between the corporation sole and the member.

Second, the only evidence plaintiffs point to is that of Cardinal Mahoney (sic). But, they overstate and mischaracterize his testimony, which does not support their implied assertion that the defendant corporation “owned and operated” the school. The Cardinal’s testimony is that the Bishop is in chage of and operates the schools in the Diocese, and that the bishop and the corporation sole of the Bishop owns and operates the parishes. It does not state that the corporation sole -- the defendant here -- is in charge of and operates the schools. Most certainly there is no evidence that the principal or teachers are employees or agents of the defendant corporation sole.


Read the above lines again imitating Robert DeNiro. It Works!


QUOTES Continued

The declaration of W Doe is not material because its credibility is questionable.

First, plaintiffs’ counsel refused to make the witness available for interview. One way of demonstrating that the newly discovered evidence is truthful is to permit the witness to be interviewed by opposing counsel.

In connection with preparing the instant opposition, defense counsel sought to interview W Doe. Plaintiffs’ counsel informed the defense that they now represent W Doe, and declined defendant’s request to communicate with W Doe.

Go, Tony DeMarco


QUOTES Continued:

Finally, the declaration is additionally suspicious because of specificity of recollection of isolated events forty years ago, because the witness apparently failed to take any steps regarding the alleged misconduct throughout his adult life, and because the witness has several criminal convictions.

How do they know so much about what the new witness has been doing since 1966?

Here is more dialogue for Martin Scorsese to rewrite for Robert DeNiro:


From: Declaration of John T. Steinbock, Bishop of Fresno

As the currently appointed Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, I am a board member and president of the Diocese of Fresno Education Corporation.

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Fresno, a corporation sole, is a separate and distinct entity from the Diocese of Fresno Education Corporation.

Signed John Steinbock.

(That's what they teach in seminary these days?)




We'll revisit Fresno when we hear the date for the new trial.

Click headlines below to read our previous coverage of Fresno

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mahony Fresno testimony counters evidence which plaintiffs were unable to enter during trial, letters scanned here at City of Angels

*By Kay EbelingCreator, City of Angels Blog

I hold in my hands this morning so scan here letters that question the truth of Cardinal Roger Mahony's testimony in the clegy case trial March 2009 in Fresno, California. Plaintiffs could not enter this evidence at trial...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Fresno judge to rule within week on Motion for New Trial by plaintiffs, in pedophile priest case tried March 2009

*By Kay Ebeling
City of Angels Network

Jeff Anderson of Minnesota and Tony DeMarco of LA appeared in Fresno California Superior Court for an afternoon hearing today, on their Motion for New Trial in the Catholic pedophile priest civil lawsuit that went to a verdict earlier this year.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Will a Fresno judge allow a new trial re Msgr. Anthony Herdegen? Would bishops withhold evidence or lie under oath?

*By Kay Ebeling
Producer, City of Angels Network

Looking through the personnel file of Monsignor Anthony Herdegen, to me what stood out most is what was not there, in a good two thousand pages of loose sheets documenting Herdegen's 50-year career in Central California parishes.


Coming up:

Remember the sentencing of Michael Baker in December 2007?

The DA in Los Angeles was able to prosecute and put this one pedophile priest in prison because two victims came forward for whom Baker's crimes were within the statute of limitations.

One of those victims in pseudonym Luis C who began a lawsuit in August of 2007. The case is going through pre-trial motions in Judge Elias’ court, with a hearing on defendants' demurrers on July 18th. We are gathering docs on the Luis C case for upcoming stories, as well as more on the fight in the state supreme court that will affect future suits against the church.



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It costs $33 to go from LA to Fresno on Amtrak …



I read the Catholic League quote from today to a former altar boy pedophile priest victim friend, where Bill Donohoe says:

“I am fed up with unscrupulous lawyers and their well-greased professional victims’ groups seeking to plunder the Catholic Church.”

My friend replied, "Well greased was a function of the parish priest when I was a kid."


Above, Bishop John Steinbock

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