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False abuse accusations against priests common, lawyer argues

January 03, 2011

A veteran attorney has warned a California court of rampant fraud in sex-abuse claims against Catholic priests.

Donald Steier has submitted a statement to Los Angeles County Superior Court saying that many claims against priests have been “either entirely false or so greatly exaggerated that the truth would not have supported a prosecutable claim.”

Steier reported that many plaintiffs have reported abuse only after hearing of other plaintiffs who received a lucrative financial settlement for an abuse claim. Plaintiffs have changed their stories over time, he said. Moreover, Steir revealed, in a number of cases an accused priest who denies wrongdoing has successfully passed a lie-detector test, while his accuser has refused to submit to the test.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has denounced Steier’s report, and demanded that Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahoney distance himself from the arguments. SNAP has not directly challenged the content of Steier’s arguments.


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  • Posted by: florentine - Jan. 06, 2011 11:59 AM ET USA

    I've wondered for years if many of these accusations were false, given the fact that they ALL involve monetary claims. No doubt sexual abuse and molestation is a devastating crime and should be punished, but "bearing false witness" against someone for spite, or at the urging of pernicious psychiatric practices and ever greedy lawyers, in order to gain wealth at any cost, should also be exposed and punished. Also, someone needs to do an accounting of all the lawyers fees in abuse claims.

  • Posted by: annemarie - Jan. 03, 2011 10:26 PM ET USA

    Justice is a four-letter word to the majority of U.S. bishops. It is a grave injustice and, surely, sinful that priests remain in limbo for 5, 10, 15 years because bishops refuse them the rights prescribed under Canon Law. I know good, holy priests languishing in this abominable situation. Does political correctness trump The Ten Commandments?! Dear God, help us!