SANTA ANA — The Roman Catholic Church is responsible for warning parishioners when priests are suspected of child molestation, a state appeals court has ruled.
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeal ruled Monday that Leanne Davis, the mother of an abused boy, can sue the Diocese of Orange for damages because diocese officials did not tell her that a parish priest had been accused of child molestation. The ruling overturns an Orange County Superior Court judge's earlier decision.
Davis' suit alleged that diocese officials knew in 1984 that Father Robert Foley, a priest at St. Justin Martyr Church in Anaheim, had molested another boy on an overnight Scout trip and that they had failed to protect Davis' son and others, either by removing the priest or warning parishioners.
"By permitting Father Robert to remain as parish priest with spiritual, psychological, and community obligations to church members," Associate Justice Thomas F. Crosby Jr. wrote for the majority, "the church's hierarchy essentially warranted he was fit for the post."