The United States Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from the Vatican for immunity in an attempt to shield itself from child molestation lawsuits in the United States.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused on Monday to consider whether the Vatican has legal immunity over the sexual abuse of minors by priests in the United States, allowing a lawsuit filed in 2002 to go forward. The nation’s highest court, asked to rule on a U.S. appeals court decision that cleared the way for the lawsuit to proceed, rejected the Vatican’s immunity appeal without comment. The lawsuit, filed by a plaintiff identified only as John Doe, claimed he was sexually abused on several occasions in the mid-1960s when he was 15 or 16 by a Roman Catholic priest named Father Andrew Ronan. According to court documents, Ronan molested boys in the mid-1950s as a priest in Ireland and then in Chicago before his transfer to a church in Portland, Oregon, where he allegedly abused the victim who filed the lawsuit. Ronan died in 1992. The Vatican claimed immunity under a U.S. law, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, that allows foreign states to avoid being sued in court. But the law contains exceptions. The appeals court cited one of those, ruling the lawsuit has sufficiently alleged that Ronan was an employee of the Vatican acting within the scope of his employment under Oregon law.
The lawyer involved in the Oregon case, Jeff Anderson says he plans to depose Pope Benedict. (Although decompose would be so much better) “I won’t start with him; I’m going to work my way up. But this ruling gives me the ability to depose anybody within the organization who has knowledge about the events.”
Deposing Benedict would be a shining achievement all by itself. I wish this lawyer all the best of luck.
(I wonder if Bill Donahue will now be demanding that the Catholic members of SCOTUS be excommunicated?)