A Los Angeles
judge dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday against Mexico City
cardinal Norberto Rivera, who had been accused of conspiring
with Roman Catholic officials in the United States to
transfer a priest accused of sexual abuse between the
The judge found
Rivera could not be held accountable in a U.S. court
because there was not enough evidence against him, said Mike
Finnegan, the plaintiff's attorney.
''It was a legal
technicality,'' he said. ''It didn't reach any of the
merits of the case and it didn't get to the key issues in
the case, which is Cardinal Rivera's complicity in
sending [the priest] to the United States as a child
Finnegan said he
planned to pursue a lawsuit in Mexican courts.
spokesman, Hugo Valdemar, told the Associated Press in
Mexico City that the cardinal was ''greatly
satisfied'' by the judge's ''careful, fair decision.''
''We are happy
and satisfied that the judge confirmed what we have always
said: This isn't a case to be judged in the United States,''
he said. ''Mr. Joaquin has every right to present a
complaint in Mexico.''
Mendez, 26, filed the lawsuit alleging that Rivera, who
was then a bishop in Puebla state, knew that the priest had
molested children when he sent him to the archdiocese
of Los Angeles. The priest, Nicolas Aguilar Rivera, is
no relation to the cardinal.
While it is the
Associated Press's policy not to identify people who
allege sexual abuse, Mendez chose to come forward with his
Rivera has said
he was unaware of molestation allegations against the
In a declaration
filed in February, the cardinal said he sent a letter to
Los Angeles cardinal Roger Mahony in 1987 warning him that
Nicolas Aguilar Rivera had ''homosexual problems.'' A
spokesman for the Los Angeles archdiocese has said the
U.S. cardinal never received the letter.
The priest fled
to Mexico after less than a year in Los Angeles after he
was accused of sexual abuse in Los Angeles and before police
could begin an investigation. He has since been
charged in California with 19 felony counts of
committing lewd acts on a child.
continued to serve in Mexico. The lawsuit Mendez filed
against him about a year ago alleges that he raped the
boy at the rectory when he was about 12 years old. The
boy was told by the priest to keep quiet or his
siblings would suffer the same abuse, according to the
whereabouts are currently unknown, Finnegan said.
ruling also dismisses claims against the Mexican diocese of
Tehuacan, where the cardinal was bishop at the time he
transferred the priest.
Mahony, the Los
Angeles cardinal, settled his portion of the lawsuit in
July when the archdiocese agreed to pay more than 500
alleged victims of sex abuse $660 million, archdiocese
spokesman Tod Tamberg said.
that it was a ridiculous charge of conspiracy. The decision
doesn't change our opinion that this was an absolutely
spurious lawsuit,'' Tamberg said. (Gillian Flaccus,