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Mexican cardinal can't be sued in L.A., lawyer says

February 26, 2007|From the Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — A court in Los Angeles has no legal right to try Mexico's most prominent cardinal in connection with alleged child molestation and rape by a Mexican priest, the cardinal's lawyer said Sunday.

Bernardo Fernandez, who represents Cardinal Norberto Rivera, said only a Mexican court has the authority to rule on the lawsuit.

"The plaintiff is Mexican, complaining about alleged acts that happened in Mexico City in 1994, and the suit is against Mexicans," Fernandez told reporters after Rivera gave Sunday Mass in the capital's metropolitan cathedral. "Mexican tribunals should oversee this case."

Rivera refused to talk to the media.

A lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in September alleges that Rivera conspired with Cardinal Roger M. Mahony to protect priest Nicolas Aguilar.

In the suit, Joaquin Aguilar Mendez says he was raped by Aguilar in Mexico City in 1994 after the priest had been charged with 19 felony counts of committing lewd acts on a child in California.

The lawsuit accuses Rivera and Mahony of negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy and sexual battery, and charges Aguilar with sexual battery.

Church officials in Los Angeles have denounced the legal action, saying it is baseless.

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