Father EricSwearingen took the stand Tuesday for the second time in Juan Rocha'scivil lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno.
Swearingentestified that Rocha stayed overnight with him in church rectoriesthree times in the late 1980's and early 1990's, but he denied evermolesting the boy. The incidents took place in Bakersfield, whereSwearingen was a priest at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, and later inFresno at St. Alphonsus Church.
Although the churchhad rules against guests in the rectory, Swearingen said he wasn'taware of them and was just trying to help Rocha, who came from atroubled family.
Rocha is suing theDiocese for damages because of the alleged sexual abuse he says heendured. If the jury finds the Diocese is responsible, Rocha could beawarded financial damages.
Closing arguments are scheduled to begin on Wednesday at 9:00 a.m.
Two other sex abuselawsuits against the Diocese were settled out of court earlier thisyear. The accusers in those cases received $650,000 and $875,000.Neither case involved Father Swearingen.
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