While abuse victim lawyers have often sought to portray themselves as sober and tireless champions of the afflicted, an alleged victim of Catholic clergy abuse has described a jubilant scene among contingency lawyers following the 2007 record-setting $660 million settlement in Los Angeles that "looked like a frat party."
The individual, former police officer Manuel Vega, says that some victorious attorneys "were even chest-bumping" at the news of their financial windfall.
Vega has long argued for the release of Church document files in Los Angeles, and he is upset because contingency lawyers and Church attorneys have yet to reach an agreement through a judge on the release of certain personnel records, as dictated in the 2007 settlement. Vega has now been arguing for the release of such files for nearly a decade.
The Los Angeles Times reports that a lot of Vega's anger is directed at the very lawyers who once represented victims like him. He feels that the self-righteous attorneys involved in the windfall settlement have essentially abandoned him on the issue that he finds most important.
"They took the money and ran," says Vega, according to the Times.
The Times quotes high-profile contingency lawyers John C. Manly, who once compared being a Catholic priest to being a train conductor carrying prisoners to Auschwitz, and Raymond P. Boucher, whose eye-popping earnings from abuse settlements have recently been disclosed.
A 2010 article from USC's Annenberg News identified Vega as a member of the advocacy group SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests).
It would be nice to see the media look into some of the statements and actions of some of these contingency lawyers who have profited so nicely from the Catholic Church in the past number of years.