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Recent Case Results Won For Victims

--$150,000.00--Settlement: Priest Molestation Childhood Sexual Assault and Abuse Case (August 2020)


The following recent childhood sexual abuse case results were only made possible because of the recently enacted California State Assembly Bill 218 which Governor Newsom signed into law and which took effect on January 1, 2020. This law expanded the Statute of Limitations for childhood sexual abuse and assault creating a “three-year window of Justice,” for survivors and victims’ alike who were previously blocked from pursuing a claim for compensation and justice.


DON’T DELAY! —YOU ONLY HAVE UNTIL DECEMBER 30, 2022 TO FILE YOUR CLAIM

1. Thumbnail: $150,000.00—Settlement: Priest/ Church Molestation Childhood Sexual Abuse Case (August 2020)


Attorney for Plaintiff: Michael A. Fiumara, Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC, Santa Rosa, California


Attorney for Defendant: Paul Gaspari, Weintraub Tobin, San Francisco, California


Facts: This claim involves three separate incidents of childhood sexual abuse perpetrated by a priest at St. Charles Church in San Carlos, California. The incidents occurred around 1974. John (whose name has been changed to protect his identity) was a shy young boy with a troubled home environment and a severe learning disability which left him vulnerable to childhood sexual abuse particularly by a priest.


The sexual abuse occurred while John was enrolled in a catechism class at St. Charles. John was using the restroom facility when one of the parish priests forced himself into the bathroom stall and subjected John to various sexual acts. John was threatened and told never to tell anybody about what happened, or he would die and go to hell. These threats coming from a priest left John terrified for many years. A similar incident occurred during another catechism class within weeks of the first incident with the same threats.


After these incidents John gradually stopped attending church, became more withdrawn, began experiencing deepening depression. His alienation from his chosen faith along with his deteriorating mental health have persisted throughout his adult life. At 53 years old he remained very distressed and his emotional and spiritual growth had been severely stunted. As a result of the childhood sexual abuse he had not been able to form any nurturing relationships. He is reliant upon medication to maintain any stability in his life.


Results: To the church’s credit, they offered the John $150,000.00 to settle the case prior to the onset of litigation. Because of John’s deteriorating mental condition this settlement could not have come at a better time. About 10 years earlier John attempted to settle his case alone and was unsuccessful, but with Counsel’s assistance he got a favorable result that he was very happy to receive especially since he was not able to positively identify the predatory priest.


Plaintiff Counsel’s Commentary: The changes in the law by enacting California Assembly Bill 218, has created a window of justice for many of the survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Survivors who had previously lost the opportunity to make a claim against predators who abused them now have a window of three years to bring their claims, beginning January 1, 2020. In this case, John was able to recall enough of the details of the abuse to bring the matter to our law firm’s attention. With some research and documentation, we proved that he brought this same claim to the church’s attention in 2010. At that time, the statute of limitations had lapsed.


On John’s behalf, we filed a claim within the new statute of limitations. This monetary settlement and an apology from the church allowed John to close a dark and painful chapter in his life and move on. No amount of money will ever erase the scars from the tragedy of childhood sexual abuse especially from a priest, a sacred figure who is the closest thing to God on earth, but it is a step in the right direction. Our law firm is grateful for the new legislation, AB 218, enacted on January 1, 2020, allowing us to achieve meaningful compensation and some semblance of justice for survivors and victims of childhood sexual abuse.



2. Thumbnail: $450,000—Settlement: Church/ Priest Childhood Sexual Assault and Abuse Case (August 2020)

Again, this settlement was only made possible as a result of the recently enacted California AB 218 which Governor Newsom signed into law, and which took effect on January 1, 2020. This law expanded the Statute of Limitations for childhood sexual abuse and created a three-year window for survivors who were previously blocked from pursuing a claim.


DON’T DELAY! —YOU ONLY HAVE UNTIL DECEMBER 30, 2022 TO FILE YOUR CLAIM


Attorneys for Plaintiff, Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivor: Michael A. Fiumara, Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC, Santa Rosa, CA and Michael Meadows from Casper Meadows Schwartz & Cook, Walnut Creek, CA.


Attorney for Defendant Oakland Diocese: Peter Glaessner, Attorney at Law


Facts: The sexual abuse occurred more than 30 years ago when the 11-year-old boy was attending the 6th grade at St. Catherine’s Catholic Elementary School in Martinez, CA. There, Father Cabral took the 6th grader into the boy’s bathroom on several occasions where they were both alone and molested the boy. The shocked and scared boy was told by Father Cabral not to talk about this. Father Cabral, who as an adult and especially in his capacity as a priest, held tremendous power over the boy. Cabral, who had molested other boys, told the 6th grader that “if you say anything, I will tell your father and he will beat you.”


The most severe sexual abuse occurred when the victim was now in the 8th grade. Father Cabral brazenly pulled the 8th grader out of class and said to him, “A vessel is missing from the Church. Did you take it or break it?” Father Cabral told the boy that if he lied, he would go to hell. Cabral whipped the boy with a belt and then sexually penetrated him, causing him tremendous pain and embarrassment.


As a result of these horrific acts the victim did not want anyone to touch him, especially in a sexual way. He pushed girls away who wanted to share intimacy and did not enter into sexual intercourse with the opposite sex until much later in life. What made this survivor’s suffering worse is that he knew that his older brother had been abused by the same priest on a regular basis. The sexual abuse had a long-term effect on the survivor’s outlook in life. The survivor developed a genuine distrust of the church and the experiences made him question his own faith. Later, in public high school, he became more aggressive and angrier, getting into fights at school to protect weaker and more vulnerable children.


Unfortunately, even after all these years, the survivor exhibits all the classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Upon being examined by a renowned psychiatric M.D., his PTSD was directly attributed to the sexual abuse. He has vivid memories of the events. He continues to suffer from acute psychological and physiological distress. In addition, he avoids memories, thoughts, feelings, and reminders which have adversely affected the quality of his life with guilt, mental anguish, and distress.


Plaintiff Expert: Lynn Ponton, M.D. Professor Emeritus of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco


Result: The Diocese offered to settle the case for $450,000 which the survivor accepted. He can now benefit from psychotherapy from an experienced psychiatrist who has worked with survivors of sexual abuse. The client was very pleased with the result achieved for him especially since the case was settled within a year despite COVID-19 and he avoided publicity and having to reveal his past to his family.


Thumbnail: $975,000.00 Priest/Church Childhood Sexual Abuse (May 2021)


Again, this settlement was only made possible as a result of the recently enacted California AB 218 which Governor Newsom signed into law, and which took effect on January 1, 2020. This law expanded the Statute of Limitations for childhood sexual abuse and created a three-year window for survivors who were previously blocked from pursuing a claim.


DON’T DELAY! —YOU ONLY HAVE UNTIL DECEMBER 30, 2022 TO FILE YOUR CLAIM


Paul M. v. Diocese of San Francisco


Childhood Sexual Abuse by a Priest


SETTLEMENT OFFER: $975,000.00


Plaintiff Attorney(s)

Michael A. Fiumara, Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC, Santa Rosa, CA

Michael Meadows, Casper Meadows Schwartz & Cook, Walnut Creek, CA


Defense Attorney(s)

Paul Gaspari, San Francisco, CA


Facts & Allegations


This case involved a predatory priest, notorious for violently sexually abusing young boys, starting in the 1970’s. The Catholic Diocese moved this priest to different parishes many times to avoid detection. Paul came from a stable and loving home, had friends, enjoyed sports and was a capable student, but his life was derailed early by his abusive and traumatic experiences with Father Keegan.


Paul started going to church before he went to elementary school at St. Anne’s. The family switched to St. Cecilia’s for church. Father Keegan was at St. Cecilia’s. Paul was about 10 years old when the family switched churches. Paul was an altar boy at St. Cecilia’s and Father Keegan singled out altar boys.


Paul first encountered Father Keegan during summer school at St. Cecilia. Paul had met a couple of other male students from St. Cecelia’s, and they would pal around. Keegan was a disciplinarian and would invite the boys down to his special room under the rectory for “punishment” where he would first wrestle with the boys and then sodomize them. The summer classes were prep classes to get into St. Ignatius, and Keegan was the “gateway” to getting pupils into this prestigious institution and thus held power.


As result of the sexual abuse Paul lost faith in the Church because of the betrayal by Keegan as Keegan was the embodiment of God on earth. Paul also was very saddened and had tremendous guilt when he learned that several of the other boys he watched get sodomized commit suicide later in life or become drug addicts or homeless. This internalized guilt turned inward damaged his mental and physical health.


Meltdown: The San Francisco Archdiocese and St. Ignatius placed a restraining order on Paul because he kept calling wanting to know the whereabouts of Father Keegan. Paul didn’t want to track him down, but just wanted to know where he was so that others would not be endangered. Paul had learned that Keegan was working in an orphanage in Puerto Vallerta, Mexico which turned out to be true. Although Keegan received a lengthy prison sentence for his crimes, the CA Supreme Court overturned his sentence on technical grounds and Keegan fled to Mexico. Keegan died a short time later.


Plaintiff Counsel’s Commentary: Paul bravely stood up for himself and so many other survivors of childhood sexual abuse, but unfortunately, he died shortly before receiving any of the monetary compensation that the Church offered. Had he lived for a few weeks longer, he and his family would have received the benefit of the Church’s offer. This true and tragic story underscores how important it is for anyone out there to get started with your claim. Don’t delay!


Plaintiff Expert: Lynn Ponton, M.D. Professor Emeritus of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco


Result: The Diocese offered to settle the case for $975,000. However, before the survivor could accept the agreed upon settlement, he DIED. Paul was only 70 years old and in very poor health. This should underscore the urgency of anyone who is a survivor to move ahead as quickly as possible to bring your case to JUSTICE.


Time is running out: DON’T DELAY! —YOU ONLY HAVE UNTIL DECEMBER 30, 2022 TO FILE YOUR CLAIM. Allow us to immediately help you.




Confidential 7-Figure Monetary Settlement --Childhood Sexual Abuse Case-- Mediated Settlement Against a Youth Leader/Organization (June 2021)


SETTLEMENT: Exact Amount Confidential, Resolved by Mediation


Plaintiffs’ Attorney(s)


Michael A. Fiumara, Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC, Santa Rosa, CA

Michael Meadows, Casper Meadows Schwartz & Cook, Walnut Creek, CA


Defense Attorney(s)

Mark Lowary Mark Lowary | Senior Partner BERMAN BERMAN BERMAN SCHNEIDER & LOWARY, LLP

Mediation: Counsel for the Plaintiffs and the Defense agreed upon a retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge to act as the mediator, who has a great deal of experience with Priest Abuse, School, and other types of childhood sexual abuse and assault cases. A one-day long mediation resolved the case for the two female plaintiffs. (The case had not been filed with a Court of law).


Facts & Allegation:


Two female plaintiffs came forward in their 50’s after California passed AB 218 extending the statute of limitations for filing such an old childhood sexual abuse claim from the 1980’s. When the two plaintiffs were 14 and 15 respectively their Christian youth leader began to have sex with one of them for a 3-year period and for the other, 18 months. The sexual contact was continuous and in one case involved regular vaginal penetration.


Both survivors suffered various degrees of depression, PTSD, and other adverse mental health effects over their lifetime. Their mental health condition was documented in a report prepared by the well-respected expert in the field, Dr. Lynn Ponton.


Plaintiff Expert: Lynn Ponton, M.D. Professor Emeritus of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco


Result:


The Youth Organization tendered half of the settlement from their own resources and the other half came from an insurance policy that was in effect from the 1980’s.