Kin of dead sex abuse victim sue under new California law

LOS ANGELES — After a long time of coping with the boyhood trauma of being molested by a priest, Jim Bartko sued the Roman Catholic church two years in the past under.

But the lawsuit was dismissed when he died 4 days after talking publicly about it.

A new law has now revived his case, permitting his property to file for damages he may have searched for his struggling if he have been nonetheless alive.

Lawyers for Bartko’s kids filed the lawsuit final week in Alameda County Superior Court in opposition to the Oakland Diocese for allegedly failing to stop abuse by the previous Rev. Stephen Kiesle that occurred between 1972 and 1975 at St. Joseph’s Parish in Pinole, 18 miles (29 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

“They used to name him ‘the pied piper’ as a result of in every single place he went, the youngsters adopted him round,” legal professional Rick Simons stated Tuesday of Kiesle. “He as soon as stated, ‘There wasn’t a single one I didn’t molest.’”

A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Oakland stated it might be inappropriate to remark at this level, however famous that Kiesle had been eliminated from the priesthood.

Kiesle, 74, a convicted youngster molester, gained worldwide consideration lengthy after he left the priesthood in 1987. The Associated Press reported in 2010 that Pope Benedict XVI — when he was then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — resisted pleas from the diocese to defrock Kiesle.

Bartko, a longtime University of Oregon athletic division administrator, stated Kiesle had molested him and his greatest buddy throughout sleepovers on the church rectory when he was a boy.

READ ALSO  3 in Mexico who investigated killings were themselves probed

He stored the key for greater than 4 a long time, laden by sleeplessness and nervousness.

Because of extreme ingesting, Bartko’s marriage collapsed and he misplaced his job as athletic director at California State University, Fresno, Simons stated.

In rehab, he lastly informed his story to a therapist and later wrote a e book about his expertise known as “ Boy within the Mirror.”

An emotional Bartko spoke at a news convention to announce the lawsuit in March 2020, joined at one level by the childhood buddy who had been abused alongside him.

That lawsuit was filed throughout a three-year window permitting sex abuse circumstances to be introduced lengthy after the deadline to deliver such claims had expired.

Four days later, Bartko, 54, collapsed whereas after figuring out in Oregon, and died of a hemorrhage attributable to cirrhosis.

Kiesle was convicted of lewd conduct in 1978 for tying up and molesting two boys and sentenced to 3 years probation. He was sentenced to 6 years in jail in 2004 for molesting a lady.

In 1981, Kiesle utilized to depart the priesthood with the help of diocese officers.

But the case languished on the Vatican. A 1985 letter in Latin obtained by AP bearing Ratzinger’s signature informed Bishop John Cummins that eradicating Kiesle was of “grave significance” and a choice required “very cautious consideration, which necessitates an extended interval of time.”

Church officers in California wrote no less than 3 times to Ratzinger to test in and Cummins mentioned it throughout a Vatican go to, in line with correspondence. A Vatican official at one level stated the file could have been misplaced and prompt resubmitting supplies.

READ ALSO  WATCH: First lady Jill Biden unveils White House holiday decorations

Kiesle was lastly defrocked in 1987.

Bartko’s grownup son and daughter have a pending wrongful loss of life declare in opposition to the church for their very own losses. They stated their father’s ingesting, which started when Kiesle gave him communion wine earlier than molesting him, led to self-medication and alcoholism that triggered his liver illness.

But the new law permits them to hold ahead their father’s claims for the emotional and psychological toll the abuse took on his life.

Previously, survivors of plaintiffs who died in California may search damages for financial losses similar to wages or medical payments, however not for his or her family members’ so-called ache and struggling or disfigurement.

California was one of few states to not enable these kind of damages after loss of life.

Senate Bill 447 was signed into law final 12 months by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom to permit that change to happen by means of the top of 2025.

Supporters, led by Consumer Attorneys of California, stated the earlier law created “a perverse incentive for defendants to delay circumstances and harass ailing or injured plaintiffs within the hopes that the plaintiff will die earlier than trial, permitting the wrongdoer to keep away from paying any damages for the human struggling they’ve triggered.”

READ ALSO  Biden says teachers deserve 'a increase, not just reward'

Opponents, led primarily by docs and well being care teams, warned of the “collateral harm such a change would deliver to all stakeholders of our civil justice system.”

Attorney Daniel Hurwitz, who just isn’t concerned within the case, stated a subset of circumstances could have the potential to win extra damages and attorneys must issue that in when assessing the worth of the case.

“The damages image can change dramatically if the plaintiff have been to move away,” Hurwitz stated. “Certainly any plaintiff decedent with a prolonged ache and struggling interval — that property goes to have a probably bigger restoration.”

During the news convention earlier than his loss of life, Bartko stated he had refused to talk with police about Kiesle when he was 12, saying he let down different children who had reported abuse on the time.

He vowed to proceed to talk out after which learn a passage from his e book that appeared becoming given the change in law that continues to offer him a voice in courtroom.

“We lastly share what our betrayers hoped we’d at all times take to our graves as a result of our silence permits them to proceed to prey on these too afraid to talk up,” he stated.


This story has been corrected to replicate legal professional’s quote that some plaintiffs may have “probably bigger” recoveries, not “considerably bigger.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: