Mexico cardinal questioned in priest abuse lawsuit
Mexico’s most prominent cardinal was deposed Wednesday in a U.S. lawsuit accusing him of complicity in the alleged rape of a child by a Mexican priest.
Cardinal Norberto Rivera and his lawyers rushed past reporters and photographers waiting outside archdiocese offices in Mexico City without speaking.
Later, archdiocese spokesman Rev. Hugo Valdemar Romero said Rivera gave his statement voluntarily.
Roman Catholic Church officials here have argued that a Los Angeles court should not be handling a case involving Mexican clergy and an alleged victim in Mexico.
Joaquin Aguilar Mendez filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court in September, alleging that he was raped by priest Nicolas Aguilar in Mexico City in 1994 when he was 13.
The priest had fled to Mexico from California, where he is charged with 19 felony counts of committing lewd acts on a child. Los Angeles police suspect Aguilar molested as many as 26 altar boys in two Los Angeles parishes in 1987 and 1988.
The suit alleges that Rivera conspired with Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony to protect Nicolas Aguilar. It accuses Rivera and Mahony of negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy and sexual battery, and charges Aguilar with sexual battery.
The victim’s attorney, Jeffrey Anderson, said Mahony settled with Aguilar Mendez privately last month around the time the archdiocese reached its record-breaking $660-million settlement with alleged abuse victims.
He said Aguilar Mendez’s case was handled separately and that the amount was “modest” compared with the average $1.3 million for other victims.
Anderson said Rivera’s attorneys in Los Angeles had sought to limit the scope of the deposition and prevent the plaintiff from videotaping it and filing a transcript with the Los Angeles Superior Court. Judge Elihu Berle denied their motions.
The lawsuit alleges that Rivera, who was a bishop in Puebla state, transferred Nicolas Aguilar to Los Angeles in 1988 for nine months, despite knowing of allegations of abuse against the priest.