Jury Verdict Summary from the National Association of State Jury Verdict PublishersJuly 16, 2007
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Case: 508 Unnamed Minors v. Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, a Corporation Sole aka the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and Various Related Entities. Claims were coordinated into “The Clergy Cases I”
Judge OKs $660M clergy abuse settlementGillian Flaccus, Assocated Press
Los Angeles/July 16, 2007
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Sobs and a moment of silence for those who died during years of negotiations punctuated a Monday hearing at which a judge accepted a $660 million settlement between the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles and alleged victims of clergy sex abuse.
“This is the right result,” said Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Haley Fromholz.
The settlement is by far the largest payout by any diocese since the clergy abuse scandal emerged in Boston in 2002. Individual payouts, to be made by Dec. 1, will vary according to the severity of each case.
Cardinal Roger Mahony, whose archdiocese counts 4.3 million Catholics, sat through the hearing but did not speak. He issued an apology Sunday after the settlement was announced and said Monday in a statement that he would spend the rest of the day praying for those who claimed abuse.
Ray Boucher, the lead plaintiffs’ attorney, asked his clients to stand during the hearing and thanked them for their resolve and their courage, before breaking down in tears. “It’s their courage and commitment that made this possible, and I think they deserve a tremendous debt of gratitude,” he said.
“I know it’s hard for most of the victims whose scars are very deep … and I know many will never forgive the cardinal,” he said. “But he took steps that I think that only he could take, and if left to the lawyers and others in the church, he would not have settled this case.”
The attorney for the archdiocese, Michael Hennigan, also appeared emotional as he told the court that his views of clergy sexual abuse changed dramatically during the years he spent trying to hammer out an agreement. He said private meetings with 70 of the plaintiffs made the most impact.
“It changed us all, and it changed our perspective on what’s happened here,” he said.
“I’d like to say that the church would have been reformed without these cases, but I don’t know that’s true,” he said. “These cases have forever reformed the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. It will never be the same.”
Expert Witness, Gilbert Kliman, MD, is quoted regarding the Archdiocese of Los Angeles - Reno Gazette JournalMartha Bellisle
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Retired bishop backed priests’ shelter
Reno’s former Roman Catholic bishop, Phillip Straling, supported building a facility for priests accused of molesting children when he was bishop in San Bernardino, Calif., and used some of the priests held there to work in his diocese, according to testimony from a priest who led the group that ran the center.
The Rev. Joseph McNamara revealed Straling’s involvement in the creation of the Servants of the Paraclete facility in Cherry Valley, Calif., during his June 21 testimony in the massive legal case against Los Angeles-area priests accused of sexually abusing children.
The Diocese of Los Angeles settled that case last week for a record $660 million.
The Southern California facility, built in Straling’s San Bernardino diocese in 1980, was used as “a clerical prison for holding known child sex offenders from all over the country instead of turning them over to the police,” said Patrick Wall, a consultant with a Southern California law firm handling hundreds of cases against priests.
When consulted by McNamara on setting up the center, Straling gave his approval of the plan and saw it as a way to bring in new priests to help with his short-staffed diocese, the testimony showed.
The centers were the subject of growing criticism as being used to protect abusive priests.
When priests were sent to a center, “they weren’t reported for their suspected criminal activities and no warnings were given to the communities,” said Dr. Gilbert Kliman, the medical director of the San Francisco-based Children’s Psychological Health Center and an expert witness in the L.A. lawsuits.
“The priests were often referred back to the same people who had referred them there, and many priests returned to ordinary duties, including contact with children,” he said.
Straling, who retired unexpectedly in 2005, was not named in the Los Angeles suits, but is a key witness in about 170 lawsuits in San Bernardino and San Diego filed against priests accused of molesting children. In some cases, Straling is accused of negligence for failing to stop the abuse.
The former bishop was called in to testify on those cases in December. His deposition has remained sealed while the bankruptcy case filed by the San Bernardino diocese is considered by the courts.
Straling also came under fire in late 2005 from several Reno residents who said they were abused by priests in the Reno diocese. One woman, who accepted a $50,000 settlement from the Reno diocese for abuse she said she suffered by the Rev. David Brusky, said Straling lied to her about Brusky’s condition and led her to believe he had suffered a stroke and was incapacitated. But a visit by the Reno Gazette-Journal revealed that he was healthy and able to move around his Milwaukee assisted-living home.
Background to Above Article:
Testimony of Expert Witness Gilbert Kliman, MD Plays Key Role in Roman Catholic Church Settlement for $660,000,000 in Pedophile Priest Case
Gilbert Kliman, MD, member of the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute and Society, and Medical Director of Preventive Psychiatry Associates Medical Group in San Francisco, recently testified at the request of four law firms. He was deposed for six days in Los Angeles, ending July 16, 2007 regarding 500 plaintiffs to whom much of his general testimony applied, including 14 he had personally examined in the past two months. Of Kliman’s 14 evaluees, each alleged sexual abuse during childhood by Father Clint Hagenbach during Hagenbach’s long career as a Catholic parish priest. No reports to civil authorities or records of investigations of the alleged perpetrator were made by responsible superiors even after a staff member’s child was suspected of being molested. Kliman testified that instead, the priest’s employers repeatedly reassigned the abuser, moving him among a series of seven parishes in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to posts involving continued close contact with children. No effort was ever made to inform the affected parish communities of possible child endangerment. This appeared to be part of a widespread pattern of Church management of priests’ crimes against children.
Dr. Kliman concluded that the abuse alleged had actually occurred and that the abuser was known to his employers as a person suspected of criminal acts against children. While the defense claimed lack of knowledge of the specific events and denied that child sexual abuse in general was foreseeable during the years of alleged abuse, Dr. Kliman strongly disagreed. He created a summary of church and society’s knowledge of child abuse which was substantiated by depositions and records during the discovery process for the case. Shortly after Dr. Kliman’s sixth day of testimony a settlement was reached. The Catholic Church and plaintiffs settled on $660,000,000 in compensation which was approved by the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles on July 16th.
Kliman’s opinions included findings of harmful group psychological processes. He noted those in the psychological climate and spiritual network of the churches and schools which the children attended. As part of a Church-induced climate of acceptance of negligent authority, he opined that children and families were kept ignorant of the dangers to which the children were being exposed by the much-transferred priest. He opined that the Church practiced protecting the reputation of Church and pedophile priests by avoiding such legally and administratively necessary disclosures. Low priority was given to act on the Church’s acknowledged responsibility to protect children. In Kliman’s opinion, all of the children he examined were severely neglected and traumatized, harmed by their church administrators and by Church employees, as well as by the sexually aggressive priest and, in some instances, by teachers in the employ of the Catholic schools. Kliman’s testimony included outlines of and scientific bases for the diagnoses he made in each of the cases he evaluated. Kliman also provided treatment recommendations and cost data for life care treatment required to even partially rehabilitate the victims. Those costs affected the settlement outcome. Dr. Kliman’s summary of such wrongdoings included data from the past 2,000 years, and drew upon his own knowledge as an administrator of children’s schools and facilities in the 1960’s through 2004. Central in Kliman’s report in this regard was his summary of evidence of Catholic hierarchy’s explicit knowledge of sexual child abuse by priests over the past several decades. He described the role of the Servants of the Paracletes, and their treatment facilities for psychologically disordered priests established sixty years ago to which child molesting clerics were referred by Bishops and superiors from all over the country with increasing frequency, beginning in the early 1950s. Testimony showed that particular Paraclete facilities often received pedophilic priests from Los Angeles churches for treatment, usually referred by California Bishops.
This was not the first time the San Francisco analyst had participated in trials and depositions obtaining record-making compensation for children. The first of many occasions was in 1997 when a jury in Dallas awarded 11 children from that Archdiocese $119,000,000. One of those children, upon whom Kliman performed a psychological autopsy based on methods established at UCLA and used by Kliman in a half dozen other matters, had committed suicide. In that instance, the victim’s estate received the largest compensation among the 11 plaintiffs. Kliman also participated as a witness in the criminal sentencing of the Dallas priest, Father Rudy Kos, who received a life sentence. In addition to serving as an expert witness in cases involving the protection of children and his private practice, Dr. Kliman has over four decades of experience treating young children with autism and other serious emotional and developmental disorders using The Cornerstone Method of Reflective Network Therapy with over 20 teams in various treatment services in the US and in Argentina under the auspices of The Children’s Psychological Health Center, Inc., a nonprofit agency based in San Francisco. One such program is at the Ann Martin Center, in Piedmont, California.
Kliman's Testmony Quoted In Reportage On $7.5 Million SettlementMichael Saul/Dallas Morning News
March 31, 1998
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Child Sexual Abuse Case
Kos’ Testimony Depends on Judge, His Lawyer Says
An attorney for suspended Catholic priest Rudolph “Rudy” Kos said Monday his client is awaiting a ruling from the judge before deciding whether he will testify during the punishment phase of his criminal sex-abuse trial. “There is one major issue that the court is going to rule on which could very much affect whether or not Mr. Kos testifies,” said Brad Lollar, one of Mr. Kos’ court-appointed attorneys.
Mr. Kos, 52, was convicted Saturday of seven of eight counts of child sexual abuse involving four young men who told police they were molested about 1,350 times. He was acquitted of one count of indecency with a child.
Three of the seven convictions are first-degree felonies that are punishable by up to life in prison. Mr. Kos would serve his punishment on all seven convictions simultaneously. If sentenced to life in prison, he would first be eligible for parole in 15 years. He also is eligible for probation. Assistant District Attorney Howard Blackmon, the lead prosecutor on the case, said the state plans to rest Tuesday morning.
In testimony Monday morning, a psychiatrist who examined three of the four victims in the criminal case told the jury that the young men suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and will require decades of therapy.
“The trauma has overwhelmed these boys because it is cumulative. It is not just one trauma. It is a multiplicity of trauma,” said Dr. Gilbert Kliman. Dr. Kliman testified that Mr. Kos used a similar method for selecting and seducing his victims. “Mr. Kos sought victims who were especially vulnerable and less likely to resist,” he said.
Kliman Quoted Regarding Impacts Of Trauma
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Dr. Kliman was widely quoted regarding the Virginia Tech Massacre on (US) ABC News and (more surprisingly) in the English Language Al Jazeera TV from Jakarta, Indonesia.
Since the assassination of President Kennedy, Kliman has written extensively regarding potentially long lasting numbing effects of traumatic events, including mass disasters. He is often called upon by public media (e.g., Barbara Walters Show, 20/20, Channel 2 News, New York Times Magazine) to explain the significance of children’s reactions. He drew upon a section from his latest book regarding trauma (see news item below) when invited for public media discussion of the Virginia Tech incident on April 20th, 2007.
Traumatized individuals have impoverished ability to think about the future and at the same time, have a tendency to translate experience into malignant omens and prophecies that enter dreams and daily mental life. They experience numbing of interpersonal relationships. Often children traumatized by specific events will exhibit iconic memories of their trauma by repeating behaviors that signify or symbolize that trauma. That is, they may remember their trauma through behavioral enactments…
Trauma is a biological as well as a psychological insult. Sustained release of cortisol and long lasting levels of adrenalin produced by response to trauma kill brain cells. Three areas of the brain that produce emotion are affected (limbic, thalamic and prefrontal) as shown by MRI and psychometric data. There is evidence that there is a hereditary component to vulnerability to post traumatic stress syndrome; studies show that 25% of Vietnam veterans and 33% of Iraq veterans develop PTSD. So we might expect that a certain percentage of any population (such as at Virginia Tech) might be more predisposed to the worst effects of traumatizing events. In all cases, the therapeutic objective is … healthy adaptive expression, conversion of a mental state that has been, to some degree, biologically numbed by trauma. (Early Childhood Psychotherapy in the Classroom, Kliman, G. 2008)
Following the horrific events at Virginia Tech, Dr. Kliman was quoted by Dan Childs of the ABC News Medical Unit in Impact of Shootings Can Last Long After Shots Are Silenced …Mental health experts suggest that in traumatic events such as these, even those who escape physically unscathed may have long-lasting psychological wounds. “It’s an extremely disorganizing and traumatizing experience,” said Dr. Gilbert Kliman.
Gilbert Kliman, MD Serves As Expert Witness In Wrongful Death Case
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6.28 Million Dollar Jury Award
42 U.S.C. (section) 1983: Stabbing: Failure to properly monitor, supervise parolee: Wrongful death: Verdict
McFarland v. State, Wash. , Pierce County Super. Ct. , No. 96-2-05934-5, Nov. 26,1997.
Eggers, who was serving a life sentence for first-degree assault of a woman, was paroled. While on parole, he met McFarland, who befriended him. Although Eggers had violated his parole and vocational counselors determined he was not rehabilitated, he was released from parole.
Later, Eggers agreed to watch McFarland’s house while she was out of town. Although McFarland had arranged for her 17-year-old daughter, Willingham, to stay elsewhere, she stopped by the house while Eggers was there. While she was asleep, Eggers stabbed her 56 times. She is survived by her parents and adult sister.
McFarland, individually and on behalf of her daughter’s estate, and Willingham’s father sued the state under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging it had failed to adequately supervise Eggers while he was on parole and warn McFarland about his violent tendencies. Plaintiffs also sued Eggers’s parole officers, alleging failure to properly supervise and monitor him and warn McFarland about his dangerous propensities.
Defendants claimed they could not be liable for negligent supervision because Eggers had been discharged from parole at the time of the murder and, thus, they had no right to control him. Plaintiffs claimed that defendants were liable under RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF TORTS 315, 319. Those sections provide that one who has control over a third party with known dangerous tendencies but fails to exercise that control is responsible for the foreseeable harm caused by that party. Plaintiffs claimed that defendants knew or should have known that Eggers was relapsing because of his employment problems, his alcohol use, and a sexual molestation accusation against him. The state admitted liability before trial.
The jury awarded about $6.28 million, paid by the state. McFarland received $6.05 million; Willingham’s estate, about $225,000; and Willingham’s father, the rest. With interest, the award totaled about $6.36 million.
Plaintiffs’ experts were Gilbert Kliman, psychiatry, San Francisco , Cal., and Robert Moss, economics, Seattl , Wash.
Landmark Compensation For Traumatized Children - Over $201 Million In Jury AwardsSan Francisco, December 18, 1997
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San Francisco Foundation for Psychoanalysis – News Room
With a jury award in a civil court case last week, Gilbert Kliman, M.D. and the Psychological Trauma Center reached an historical landmark of $201 million in over 100 jury awards and settlements for traumatized children. Dr. Kliman’s testimony against the Washington State Parole Board helped prove the agency neglected to properly monitor a sexual psychopath who subsequently raped and murdered a l7-year-old girl. The victim’s family received a $6.3 million jury award.
“Many neglect and abuse cases benefit from psychoanalytic thinking,” says Dr. Kliman, director of the Psychological Trauma Center and member of the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute. “Often, victims and their survivors require long-term psychotherapy to recover from the mental damage that has occurred due to the ordeal they have suffered.”
“We are proud of the $201 million mark because it shows how vital psychoanalysis is to the complete rehabilitation of young trauma victims and their survivors,” says Dr. Kliman.
The Psychological Trauma Center was established nine years ago to assist attorneys in obtaining justice for children through expert psychiatric evaluation and testimony. Dr. Kliman is a Harvard Medical Graduate, board-certified child psychiatrist and Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Kliman may be best known for his testimony in the Dallas trial which led to $119,000,000 verdict for 11 children molested by a priest.
Client Success Story − Personal Injury, $650,000 Settlement
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Excerpt from http://safirelaw.com/news_success_story1.html – Safire Law Offices
Plaintiff Attorney: Eric M. Safire, Esq.
Trial Judge: Hon. Patrick Jon Zika Trial Time: 2 weeks Deliberation: 2 Days
Plaintiff Carmen Ruvalcaba, a 28-year old nutritionist, and her daughter, Jennifer Gonzalez, a 4-year-old girl, were dining at LY Luck Restaurant owned by defendants Nancy and Enrique Ham. A restaurant employee placed a pot of boiling water on a lazy susan on the plaintiff’s table. The pot came off the lazy susan and landed in Jessica’s lap, severely burning her. The plaintiffs brought this suit for negligence and the defendants cross-complained against Carmen Ruvalcaba for contributory negligence.
Kliman Quoted Regarding Sexual Abuse In Group HomesScott Gold, Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles/Aug 30, 2000
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Sex Assaults By Counselors Alleged At Group Homes
In what social workers characterize as a startling chain of attacks in California’s foster care system, seven emotionally disturbed teenagers say they have been raped or molested in San Bernardino County group homes by counselors hired to protect them.
State officials acknowledge the abuse allegations—raised in a June lawsuit filed by five of the teenagers—and say they are investigating. San Bernardino prosecutors, meanwhile, have already obtained guilty pleas from two former counselors who admitted participating in sexual assaults, court records show.
The lawsuit contends that the assaults occurred over the last two years and as recently as May in three of six foster-care facilities operated by Victor Treatment Centers.
David Favor, Victor’s chief executive officer, said Monday that his company tries to implement safeguards to prevent such incidents and performs extensive background checks when hiring staff members.
“I just can’t imagine what we could have done—could have, would have, should have—that we didn’t do,” he said. “Safety is our foremost concern. . . . I’m proud of what we’re doing.”
Favor said he founded the homes in 1968 because he believed that some teenagers housed at the time in state hospitals didn’t need to be in confined surroundings. As far as the lawsuit goes, he said: “We’re not too worried about it. We feel confident that we will prevail.”
The six-person homes, known in the vernacular of child welfare experts as “Level 14” facilities, are reserved for the most severely disturbed teens in the child welfare system. The homes are considered a last stop, and a final resort, before the teenagers are sent to mental hospitals. Victor is one of the largest operators of Level 14 homes in the state.
Favor said most of the teenagers in Level 14 facilities have been removed from their homes and funneled into the child welfare system because they were abused or neglected as children, and most have been molested before they get there.
The allegations have prompted a flurry of criminal charges and investigations by county and state officials.
According to court records, Steve Ayala, a counselor at a San Bernardino home known as the Bronson House and a teacher’s aide at a school run by the group homes, pleaded guilty to sodomy in January and received a six-year prison term. He is also named in the lawsuit.
The suit accuses another aide of exposing the same teenager, while naked, to other residents and aides. According to the lawsuit, the teenager was ridiculed in front of other residents after he gained weight—a side effect of his medication.
Robert Michael Duron, a counselor at a San Bernardino home known as Marshall House, pleaded guilty to one count of rape in January. He was sentenced to 120 days in the county jail. The lawsuit accuses Duron of raping or otherwise sexually molesting three residents between December 1998 and March 1999.
In all, three counselors are named as defendants in the suit.
The California Department of Social Services is also investigating the foster homes and has cited Victor for failing to quickly report the attacks. If there are more incidents, the state says, it will consider further action, which could include revoking Victor’s license to run the homes.
“One is too many,” said Blanca Barna, a department spokeswoman. “These are clearly very serious charges.”
Interviews with victims and attorneys, as well as reviews of Social Services documents, paint a troubling picture of life in the group homes.
At least one episode mentioned in the lawsuit is also reflected in state inspection records: A 12-year-old was allegedly sodomized by a teacher’s aide in late 1999. But when he complained of rectal bleeding in the weeks afterward, staff members refused to take the boy to a doctor, the reports say. The boy was finally taken to a doctor when he visited his parents for Thanksgiving that year.
Another state report says that “inappropriate interactions between staff and [residents] were witnessed by . . . staff and no disciplinary action was taken.”
After the alleged attacks, at least two teens lapsed in their therapy and are now in state mental homes, according to their Santa Ana attorney, Jack H. Anthony. Two others have reportedly attempted suicide. Currently, the teens range in age from 13 to 19.
“It could hardly be a coincidence,” said Dr. Gilbert Kliman, medical director of the Children’s Psychological Trauma Center in San Francisco.
Human Beings Acting ‘as Beasts of Prey’
Kliman has met six of the teenagers, and is assisting Anthony in bringing suit against the state, the county and Victor Treatment Centers, the Chico, Calif.-based nonprofit group that received $5.5 million in public funds this year to run group homes in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Two other organizations each operate a single group home in the area.
One teenager among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Wanda, agreed to be interviewed by The Times.
She said she grew up in a home near Brawley where drugs were commonplace. By the time she was 6, she said, she had been molested by four men. Social workers removed her from her parents’ home and placed her in the state’s welfare system.
According to the suit, 10 years later, in February 1999, after winding her way from one group home to another, she found herself being raped again—this time by a counselor at a Victor group home in San Bernardino known as the Chestnut House. Even as she struggled on the couch that night, the irony was not lost on her: She had come full circle. Another man she was supposed to trust was raping her, she said.
“This time, when I got raped, it hurt me more,” said Wanda. “I thought he was there for me when I needed to talk. He used to hold my hand and tell me everything was going to be OK. I never thought he was going to do anything. I trusted him.”
Kurt Rowley, San Bernardino County’s deputy district attorney in the Crimes Against Children unit, said prosecutors sporadically receive charges that people in positions of trust—from clergy to day-care workers—have taken advantage of children.
“But this kind of level is surprising,” he said of the Victor allegations. “How they got away with it—who knows?”
State regulators are troubled by what they call a poor exchange of information between the homes and inspectors.
For example, state inspection records contain a detailed history of the homes. Staff members are scolded in the documents for everything from cussing at residents to treating them too harshly when restraining them.
The records outline techniques for anger management, such as letting residents create, and then destroy, clay figurines. Some incidents are detailed in the documents, such as one that says a resident had “numerous seizures” but was not taken to a doctor—”though the seizures were continuing and intensifying in frequency and duration.”
But only one of the lawsuit incidents is reflected in the files.
According to the documents, three group homes run by Victor have been cited for failing to submit written reports about incidents such as the rapes to licensing agents.
“The reports were not being done in a timely manner,” said Barna, the Department of Social Services spokeswoman. “That’s very important to the state. And those are grounds to take it to another level.”
The civil lawsuit, meanwhile, is scheduled for trial Dec. 18.
Some experts say a rebellious or sexually charged atmosphere is common in such group homes.
In interviews, Wanda casually told of “going AWOL”—leaving the homes to get drunk on brandy and high on speed and marijuana. She also told of smuggling drugs back inside upon her return to the group home.
And in a report prepared by the San Bernardino County Probation Department, Duron, the staff member accused in three sexual attacks, paints a picture of promiscuity. Two teenagers initiated the sexual encounters he is accused of, he said.
Victor Treatment Homes receives $5,732 per bed, per month, to run its group homes. Staff members often are young and inexperienced and have little or no college education. They are often paid just $8 an hour to supervise the most troubled children in California’s child welfare system.
Credit: TIMES STAFF WRITER
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