After three years of legal wrangling, a trial has been set in the case of four men who sued the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston for alleged negligence related to sexual abuse they suffered at a diocesan parish in the mid-1990s. The trial has been set for February 25, 2008, in U.S. District Court in Houston.
The case involves Colombian seminarian student Juan Carlos Patino-Arango, who admitted to molesting one of the men (then 14 years old) in his quarters at St. Francis de Sales Parish Church. Patino-Arango left the country shortly afterwards and is believed to be living in Medellin, Colombia.
In a Sept. 26th memorandum discussing which claims were sufficient for trial, Judge Lee Rosenthal allowed the plaintiffs’ claim that the Archdiocese was negligent in hiring Patino-Arango. The 77-page memorandum includes an excerpt from Patino-Arango’s psychological evaluation stating that “difficulties reported in his past [involving] authority and sexuality” meant that Patino-Arango “may need to be supervised closely and his progress monitored regularly.”
Attorneys for the Archdiocese maintain that Patino-Arango was properly supervised and that church authorities could not have foreseen the likelihood of sexual abuse.
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The suit was filed in federal court because it originally named Pope Benedict XVI as a defendant. However, that claim was dismissed because of head-of-state immunity. At an Oct. 10 hearing, both parties agreed to keep the matter in federal court. – Craig Malisow