In Vatican victory, judge rules priests are not employees in Oregon sex abuse case
The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman ends a six-year question in the decade-old case and could shield the Vatican from possible monetary damages.
The original lawsuit was filed in 2002 by a Seattle-area man who said the Rev. Andrew Ronan repeatedly molested him in the late 1960s.
The plaintiffs tried to show that Ronan and all priests are employees of the Vatican, which is therefore liable for their actions.
Mosman made a previous decision strictly on legal theory and determined that, if all the facts in the case were true, then the Vatican would indeed employ Ronan. But on Monday, Mosman said he looked at the facts in the case and didn’t find an employer-employee relationship.
“There are no facts to create a true employment relationship between Ronan and the Holy See,” Mosman said in his ruling from the bench.
Jeff Anderson, attorney for the plaintiff, said he will appeal the decision.
“While we’re disappointed, of course, we’re not discouraged,” Anderson said.
Vatican attorney Jeff Lena declined to comment. [more]