Lawyers for the man who won a civil case against former Lockeford priest Michael Kelly are seeking contempt of court charges against Cardinal Roger Mahony.
Mahony was bishop of the Stockton Diocese from 1980 to 1985, during the time Kelly reportedly sexually assaulted a 10-year-old altar boy who attended Church of the Annunciation in Stockton in the mid-1980s. A jury ruled on April 6 that Kelly is liable of sexual assault.
The plaintiff's attorneys, led by John Manly, filed an application on Monday for a court order requiring Mahony to state why he shouldn't be held in contempt of court for failure to appear as a witness in the second phase of the civil suit against the Stockton Diocese.
In the first phase, a jury ruled that Kelly was liable individually. Scheduled to testify on Tuesday during the second phase, Kelly instead flew to his native Ireland to be with his family and seek medical treatment there. He informed Stockton Diocese Bishop Stephen Blaire in a letter dated Sunday.
Mahony's attorney, Michael Hennigan, told the News-Sentinel that Mahony is in Rome and doesn't know when he will return to the United States.
According to documents supplied by the plaintiff's attorney, John Manly, Mahony was originally subpoenaed to testify in the Kelly trial in Stockton during the week of Feb. 27, but the trial date was postponed.
Vince Finaldi, an attorney in Manly's law firm, said in court papers that Mahony would need to testify the week of April 9.
"As of this date (Monday), Cardinal Mahony has not been produced, although he is validly under subpoena, and because Mr. Hennigan refuses to produce the witness, plaintiff has no choice but to bring this present Application for an Order to Show Cause," according to the complaint written by Rebecca Rhoades, another attorney in Manly's law firm.
Hennigan didn't respond that day or on April 10, so Finaldi emailed him again, according to court documents, threatening to seek a bench warrant for Mahony's arrest.
Hennigan responded that Mahony was in Rome. Hennigan said, according to the plaintiff's complaint, that the Manly law firm's subpoena wasn't valid because it stated only the starting date of the trial, not what day Mahony would be required to testify.
"This motion is irresponsible," Hennigan told the News-Sentinel on Tuesday afternoon.
The plaintiff's attorneys were silent for two months and then suddenly ordered Mahony to show up in Stockton immediately, Hennigan said.
Mahony is in Rome for an event called Ad Limina, in which bishops from California, Nevada, Utah and Hawaii give a "state of the diocese" report to Pope Benedict XVI.
It's an event that takes place every seven years, so Mahony is at the Vatican to report on the first six of those years in Los Angeles, which were on his watch before he retired, Hennigan said.
Mahony was bishop of the Stockton diocese before being promoted to the Los Angeles Archdiocese in 1985. He was named a cardinal in 1991 and retired as archbishop last year.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.