Supreme Court rejects request to ban Catholic judges from abuse case - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Supreme Court rejects request to ban Catholic judges from abuse case

COLUMBUS (AP) - The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a lawyer's request to disqualify all Roman Catholic judges from presiding over a lawsuit he filed against the Cleveland diocese.

Jay Milano, who represents six people who say they were sexually abused by priests or church employees, asked the court Sept. 4 to ban Catholic judges from hearing the case. He said it was too much to ask them to rule against their diocese since Catholic schoolchildren are taught that an attack on the church is akin to an attack against God.

More than three-quarters of the 34 judges in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court's general division are Catholic, including Judge Nancy McDonnell who is scheduled to hear the case. The majority of the seven Supreme Court justices are Catholic.

In his order, Chief Justice Thomas Moyer -- who is not Catholic -- wrote there was no evidence that McDonnell is biased because of her religion.

McDonnell had no comment Tuesday. No hearing date has been set.

"The Supreme Court made their decision. The case will move on," Milano said Tuesday.

The diocese referred comment to their attorney, Robert Ducatman, who was out of town and unavailable for immediate comment.

Ducatman had argued that other plaintiffs in church abuse cases filed similar motions without success because there was no evidence that Catholic judges could not be fair.

Milano's lawsuit accuses the diocese of failing to report child sex abuse. It seeks financial records from the corporations the diocese owns and operates. Milano contends the diocese, which represents 800,000 Catholics, uses the businesses to shield assets.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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