Amid new reports of seven plaintiffs suing the Diocese of Oakland over alleged sex abuse decades ago by former priest Stephen Kiesle, diocesan spokesman Mike Brown says he believes the lawsuits have “no merit.”
Two separate lawsuits were filed in Alameda County Superior Court on Wednesday by six women and one man who alleged they were sexually abused by Kiesle several decades ago. The lawsuits charge that the Diocese of Oakland knew of the abuse and neglected to prevent the former priest from accessing children.
According to the Associated Press, Jeff Anderson, an attorney representing the plaintiffs who has sued dioceses across the U.S. for more than $63 million to date, said then-Oakland Bishop John C. Cummins and other church officials knew there were claims against Kiesle.
"They chose to keep secret – to not warn the parents of children, not tell police, not tell parishioners," Anderson said. "They were more concerned with saving face and protecting their reputation than with the well-being of these children."
Mike Brown, spokesman for the Diocese of Oakland, told CNA on Monday that the “lawsuits were filed late last week, so we have not yet seen them and thus can’t respond with specifics.”
However, he added, “as we understand the public characterizations made by attorney Jeff Anderson, we believe those points have no merit.”
Adding to the controversy this week, a war crimes lawyer claimed in an Iranian newspaper that the Oakland diocese has been involved in a Satanic sex-abuse ring.
The Tehran Times ran a story on Aug. 22 highlighting the comments of Alfred Lambremont Webre, an international lawyer specializing in war crimes, who claims that the Diocese of Oakland was complicit in a Satanic child sex-abuse ring that was known and covered up by then-Cardinal Ratzinger.
“Suppose Cardinal Ratzinger, the current pope, was actually running a sexual abuse ring for 'satanic worshipers' using Satanism and using sexual abuse,” Webre said. “They were actually encouraging sexual abuse by priests on children around the world as part of a 'Satanic Ritual.'”
“That's what this looks like to me as a lawyer, as a war crimes lawyer,” Webre told the Tehran Times.
Regarding the charges that Pope Benedict and the Diocese of Oakland were involved in a satanic sex abuse ritual scheme, Brown told CNA that he would “pass” on commenting.