Portland judge: Vatican did not 'employ' abusive priest

Aug 20, 2012

PORTLAND, ore. - Attorneys for an Oregon victim of clergy sex abuse say they will appeal a new decision that frees the Vatican from a lawsuit. That ruling came down Monday in federal district court in Portland. The 10-year-old lawsuit aims to link the Holy See in Rome to abuse by American priests.

A man identified in court as John V. Doe accused Fr. Andrew Ronan of raping him in the 1960s in Portland. Most of this case has been occupied with the question of whether Doe can hold the Vatican liable since it’s a foreign government.

In 2006, federal Judge Michael Mosman said the victim could have his day in court but that his attorneys had prove the Holy See employed the priest. Now, the judge says the facts show the Vatican is more like a state bar. It sets standards and can discipline, but priests don’t punch a clock to the Holy See.

Doe’s attorney Jeff Anderson plans to appeal.

“It was documented and known by the Vatican and handled under the secret protocols of Vatican mandates. And it’s for that reason than the Vatican bears responsibility,” Anderson said.

The Vatican’s attorney Jeffrey Lena said the ruling shows there are no facts to support claims that the Vatican acted as Ronan’s employer.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network.