Church settles with plaintiff

Civil case has one defendant left: the man accused of molesting plaintiff for more than eight years.

The Daily Pilot, California/March 26, 2010

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has settled with a man who claimed in a lawsuit that its leaders protected a Mormon Church counselor, who allegedly molested him for more than eight years when he was a child. Some of the alleged abuse occurred inside its Costa Mesa church.

On Thursday, the Mormon church finalized its settlement with the unnamed plaintiff for $100,000, said the man's attorney, Vince Finaldi.

"In the civil system, that's how we help compensate people for the damages they've suffered, with money," Finaldi said. "That's how you end up paying for the things that are going to help with his recovery."

The claims against the church were originally thrown out by a Orange County Superior Court judge last year.

"Churches are simply not responsible for the misdeeds of their members, without more specific facts that are not even alleged in this case," Judge Ronald Bauer wrote in dismissing the claims.

Finaldi appealed the ruling.

Bob Crockett, the attorney representing the church, said the settlement was a dollar and cents issue when it came time to fight the appeal.

It would've cost more than $100,000 to file a brief arguing their position to the court of appeal, so they just offered Finaldi's client the money instead, Crockett said.

"The church's position is that there was no molestation ever," Crockett said.

The settlement leaves only one defendant: Todd Summers of Costa Mesa. Finaldi's client, who is seven years Summers' junior, accuses Summers of molesting him inside the church, at Summers' parents home and in the family's Newport Beach business from 1990 to 1999.

Summers' parents and the family business were also named in the lawsuit, but they have all settled with the accuser. The terms of those settlements are confidential.

Finaldi said he plans to take the case to trial this year.

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