Archbishop Levada questioned regarding sex abuse cases in Portland

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Monday, January 9, 2006

Archbishop William Joseph Levada, who was the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Portland, Oregon from 1986 to 1995, was deposed in San Francisco on January 9. Levada was questioned by the plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking damages from the Archdiocese of Portland for sexual abuse allegedly performed by priests in the archdiocese. The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy protection days before the trial was set to begin.

Levada, one of the highest ranking Americans in the Vatican, was the Archbishop of San Francisco from 1995 to 2005, when he was appointed to succeed Pope Benedict XVI as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Levada was served with a subponea to testify in this case last August, immediately before leaving the United States to assume his new duties in Rome. When Levada arrived at the deposition, he was served another subponea, to testify in an abuse case involving the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Michael Morey, an attorney for the plaintiffs, stated, "We expect to find out what he knows and when he knew it." The plaintiffs are seeking over $150 million in damages. Kelly Clark, another plaintiff attorney, stated, "We are trying to prove that the Archdiocese of Portland, over the last 40 years, had a policy and practice of responding to child abuse claims in a less-than-appropriate manner." Judge Elizabeth Perris barred attorneys from asking Levada about his current position, or his activities when serving at the Congration during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

A federal bankruptcy judge ruled on December 30 that parish and school assests of the Portland Archdiocese can be used to pay claims and other debts of the archdiocese. The archdiocese had argued that the assets were not under its control, and therefore not available to settle the claims.

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