SANTA ANA (CNS) - A judge today cleared the way for the public identification of a Roman Catholic priest named in a lawsuit alleging he molested a 6-year-old boy at a Catholic school in Stanton in 1994.
Father Edward Poettgen had previously been listed anonymously in the lawsuit filed in June. An Orange County Superior Court judge ruled today that the plaintiff could publicly identify the priest.
Poettgen, who was most recently assigned to St. Boniface Catholic Church in Anaheim, has been placed on administrative leave, said Tracey Kincaid, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Orange, who added she could not comment further on pending litigation.
Kincaid did not immediately respond when asked when Poettgen was placed on leave.
Attorney Vincent Finaldi, who represents the unnamed plaintiff, said when he deposed Poettgen last week, the priest said he was still in active ministry at the church.
Finaldi said his client reported the alleged abuse last January. The plaintiff claims Poettgen molested him while he was enrolled as a student and in the parish of St. Polycarp Catholic Church in Stanton.
“They've known about this for over a year and haven't informed parishioners,” Finaldi said. “It's crazy.”
Finaldi said Poettgen served on a board of consultants that decided to settle all its lawsuits in 2007 alleging clergy sex abuse.
“They say he doesn't have any other allegations against him, but we've heard that before and proven it wrong,” Finaldi said. “We'll have to see what the discovery turns up.”
A trial date has not yet been set.