Oakland, Calif., Aug 24, 2010 / 00:51 am America/Denver (CNA).
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.”