MEXICO CITY (AP) -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 aMexican priest.
CardinalNorberto Rivera and his lawyers rushed past reporters and photographerswaiting outside offices of the Archdiocese of Mexico without givingcomment.
Later inthe afternoon, archdiocese spokesman Rev. Hugo Valdemar Romero saidRivera gave his statement voluntarily and argued that a Los Angelescourt should not be handling a case involving Mexican clergy and analleged victim in Mexico.
In alawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in September, JoaquinAguilar Mendez alleges he was raped by priest Nicolas Aguilar in MexicoCity in 1994 when he was 12 years old.
Accordingto the suit, Aguilar Mendez had gone to the priest's room at therectory to use a restroom when he was grabbed and sodomized.
Thealleged rape came after the priest already had been charged with 19felony counts of committing lewd acts on a child in California.
The suitalleges that Rivera conspired with Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony toprotect Rev. Aguilar. It accuses Rivera and Mahony of negligence,intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy andsexual battery, and charges Aguilar with sexual battery.
Thevictim's attorney, Jeffrey Anderson, said Mahony settled with AguilarMendez privately last month around the same time the archdiocesereached its record-breaking $660 million settlement with alleged abusevictims.
He saidAguilar Mendez's case, however, was handled separately and the amountwas ``modest'' compared to the average $1.3 million promised to othervictims.
Andersonsaid Rivera's attorneys in Los Angeles had sought to limit the scope ofthe deposition and prevent the plaintiff from videotaping it and filinga transcript with the Los Angeles Superior Court. Judge Elijuh Berledenied their motions.
Attorneysfrom both sides, a court representative, and a translator were at thedeposition. Mexican Bishop Rodrigo Aguilar Martinez from Puebla statewas scheduled to be deposed Thursday, said Eric Barragan of theChicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known asSNAP, which had backed Aguilar Mendez.
Rivera'sattorney, Bernardo Fernandez, has said only a Mexican court has theauthority to rule on the lawsuit. Proponents of the suit argue itinvolves church officials from both countries.
Thelawsuit alleges Rivera, who was a bishop in Puebla state, transferredAguilar to Los Angeles in 1988 for nine months despite knowing ofallegations of abuse against the priest.
In adeclaration filed in February, Rivera said he sent a letter to Mahonyin 1987 suggesting Rev. Aguilar had problems. Tod Tamberg, spokesmanfor Mahony, has said the U.S. cardinal never received the letter.
A LosAngeles court gave Mexico extradition orders for Rev. Aguilar in 1988and 1993, but he continued to work as a priest in Mexico. Since thefiling of the lawsuit, his whereabouts have been unknown.
Barragan said the Los Angeles court is expected to decide whether to proceed with the case in September.
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