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Paul Kiesel
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Bishop Madera: People Came to Him with Complaints of Priest Abuse and He'd Suggest They Write and Send a Letter to the Abuser

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From CBS 47 in Fresno:


The former Bishop of the Fresno Archdiocese takes the stand in the sexual abuse trial against the Catholic Church.

Bishop Joseph Madere told jurors on Wednesday that he never knew of alleged abuse by a Wasco priest.

The topic for much of the morning’s questioning was about the priest file for Monsignor Anthony Herdegen. The Bishop told jurors that during his time as Bishop, he never knew of or never received any complaints about the Monsignor and alleged sexual abuse by the Wasco priest.

The plaintiff’s attorney questioned whether or not he didn’t know about the allegations because of his handling of complaints of priests. The Bishop told jurors that when people came to him with complaints about their priests, he asked them to write down those complaints and then call the person they were complaining about and tell them what they were writing before they sent that letter. He said, “I don’t want to run the Diocese by rumors.”

The plaintiff’s attorney say this brings to mind the question of whether the Bishop didn’t receive complaints because people were deterred by his process or even intimidated by it. They were afraid of complaining because they would have to confront the person they were complaining about.

The Bishop was on the stand most of the morning and was expected to return after the lunch break.


In what had to be one of the more bizarre moments in court proceedings this morning, one of the plaintiff’s attorneys was allowed to question Bishop Madera regarding the existence of the Ramierez documents (documents that would contradict Madera’s earlier testimony), but was not allowed to ask about the actual documents, refer to the documents’ contents or discuss any details of the complaints, including when the letters were written. This led Bishop Madera to deny any memory of these documents, but the Bishop constantly challenged the plaintiff’s attorney by answering, "If such documents exist, why don’t you show them to me?" The attorney then held up the document in front of the Jury, prompting the Defense to object that the document was not in evidence. The Judge, based on his earlier instructions, was forced to sustain all objections regarding this individual matter. This occurred for 45 minutes.

When the morning session was over, the Judge finally ruled that Delgado, a key witness for the prosecution, would be allowed in, which, on the surface, would be a major, major turning point in this trial, but only if the Judge allows the Ramierez documents to be admissible as evidence. If the Judge allows for the Ramierez documents to admitted, along with Delgado testifying, Bishop Madera will wish he wasn’t so wily with Mr. Santillan’s attorneys earlier today.

Comeuppance, anybody?