Tuesday, February 10, 2009

California Court Dismisses Mexican Clergy Abuse Case For Lack of Jurisdiction

In Joaquin M. v. Rivera, (CA Ct. App., Feb. 4, 2009), a California state appellate court dismissed on jurisdictional grounds a suit by an adult citizen of Mexico against Catholic priest Father Nicholas Aguilar, a Mexican resident, Cardinal Norberto Rivera of Mexico City and the Mexican Catholic Diocese of Tehuacan. The complaint alleges that Cardinal Rivera and the Diocese sent Father Aguilar to work in the Los Angeles knowing that he had a history of sexual misconduct. n Los Angeles, Aguilar sexually molested numerous children. In January 1988, before the police could arrest him, Aguilar fled Los Angeles and returned to Mexico. In 1994, in Mexico, Aguilar sexually molested plaintiff, who was then 13 years old. The court held that California lacks personal jurisdiction over these Mexican defendants in this action brought by a Mexican plaintiff for injuries that occurred in Mexico. Analyzing the requirements for "specific jurisdiction," the court concluded that "plaintiff's claims do not bear a substantial connection, let alone any connection, to Cardinal Rivera’s and the Diocese of Tehuacan’s contacts with California."

Yesterday's Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise reported on the case. Quoting plaintiff's attorney, it reported that this lawsuit against a powerful Mexican Cardinal was largely responsible for exposing clergy sexual abuse in Mexico.