Church wants upcoming sex abuse trials moved to San Luis Obispo
March 16, 2013
Lawyers for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles have asked a judge to delay four sex abuse trials or move them to San Luis Obispo County because they don’t believe a fair, impartial jury can be found in Southern California. [LATimes]
Shortly after two brothers were awarded an unprecedented $4 million, the church asked a judge for a delay or change of venue in pending cases
“We think that the environment in Los Angeles today is currently hostile,” archdiocese lawyer J. Michael Hennigan said to the Los Angel Times..
Archdiocese attorneys blame media coverage, which they describe as “unrelenting obloquy, condemnation and contempt,” for poisoning the potential jury pool, according to court documents.
On Tuesday, the church asked Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Emilie H. Elias to have four suits concerning a Mexican priest accused of abusing more than two dozen boys in L.A. be moved to San Luis Obispo County. If the move is denied, the church asked for a trial delay of at least six months to allow what Hennigan called a “cooling-off period.”
Judges rarely permit changes in venue, said Richard Gabriel, a jury consultant to the Los Angeles Times.
Child molestation cases “engender very high emotions and very strong feelings,” Gabriel said. “When you have a metropolitan area of 8 to 10 million people, it’s pretty hard to say that out of that many, you can’t find a fair and impartial jury.”