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John Doe v. the Roman Catholic Bishop of Stockton et al

March 23, 2011

JOHN DOE, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLANT,
v.
THE ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF STOCKTON ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND RESPONDENTS.



(Super. Ct. No.39-2009-00205174-CU-PO-STK)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Butz, J.

Doe v. Roman Catholic Bishop of Stockton

CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Another alleged victim of sexual abuse comes before this court, appealing the dismissal of a lawsuit that seeks to hold Catholic Church entities liable for child sexual abuse perpetrated by one of their priests decades ago.

Plaintiff John Doe claims his suit is timely under the common law "delayed accrual" rule as recognized in Evans v. Eckelman (1990) 216 Cal.App.3d 1609 (Evans), or under the current version of Code of Civil Procedure section 340.1,*fn1 because he did not recover memory of the abuse and its connection to his psychological injuries until he was well into middle age. He maintains this position despite the fact that his lawsuit was filed well after the one-year "revival window" that the Legislature created during the calendar year 2003 within which to bring lapsed claims against nonabuser defendants who knew or had reason to know their agents or employees were molesting children. (§ 340.1, subds. (b)(2), (c).)

We have weighed in on the issue on previous occasions. (K.J. v. Roman Catholic Bishop of Stockton (2009) 172 Cal.App.4th 1388, review granted June 24, 2009, S173042; D.D. v. Roman Catholic Bishop of Stockton (Aug. 12, 2009, C057260) [nonpub. opn.], review granted Nov. 10, 2009, S176451; L.A. v. Roman Catholic Bishop of Stockton (Aug. 12, 2009, C057895) [nonpub. opn.], review granted Nov. 10, 2009, S176483; Jane Roe 21 v. Defendant Doe 1 (2010) (Dec. 7, 2010, C062505) [nonpub. opn.], review granted Mar. 2, 2011, S189814.) On each occasion, we agreed with the result reached by the Second Appellate District, Division Eight, in Hightower v. Roman Catholic Bishop of Sacramento (2006) 142 Cal.App.4th 759. Hightower held that childhood sexual molestation claims against nonabuser entity defendants that were time-barred before January 1, 2003, remain time-barred unless the victims filed suit during the one-year revival window, even if they did not recover their memory of the abuse until after the window period closed. (Hightower,at pp. 767-768.)

Four of our decisions are on hold by the California Supreme Court pending final adjudication in the lead case of Quarry v. Doe I (2009) 170 Cal.App.4th 1574, review granted June 10, 2009, S171382 (Quarry).*fn2

Until the high court resolves the issue, we continue to adhere to the position we have taken in our prior decisions. To avoid repetition, we will not restate our views at length, but shall summarize them and briefly respond to the major arguments offered by plaintiff Doe.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Because this appeal arises from a judgment of dismissal following the sustaining of a demurrer without leave to amend, we give the complaint a reasonable interpretation, accepting as true all material facts properly pleaded. (Doe v. City of Los Angeles (2007) 42 Cal.4th 531, 543.) Read in that light, plaintiff's July 9, 2009 amended complaint for damages discloses the following pertinent allegations.

Plaintiff John Doe (a fictitious name to protect his privacy) was born in May 1965. Defendants The Roman Catholic Bishop of Stockton and the Pastor of St. Anne Church (collectively the Church) are religious institutions operating a Catholic school that plaintiff and his family once attended.*fn3 The Church employed Father Oliver O'Grady (who is not a party to this action) as a priest and spiritual and secular counselor at the parish where plaintiff attended religious school.

From 1971 through 1974, plaintiff was sexually molested on multiple occasions by Father O'Grady. The abuse took place during confessionals, counseling and tutoring ...


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