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Deposition for Mexican cardinal in abuse case

Mexican Cardinal Norberto Rivera, shown Sunday, answered questions yesterday for a US lawsuit alleging abuse by a priest. Mexican Cardinal Norberto Rivera, shown Sunday, answered questions yesterday for a US lawsuit alleging abuse by a priest. (Alexandre Meneghini/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

MEXICO CITY -- Mexico's most prominent cardinal gave a deposition yesterday in a US lawsuit accusing him of complicity in the alleged rape of a child by a Mexican priest.

Cardinal Norberto Rivera and his lawyers rushed past reporters and photographers waiting outside offices of the Archdiocese of Mexico without giving comment.

Later in the afternoon, an archdiocese spokesman, the Rev. Hugo Valdemar Romero, said Rivera gave his statement voluntarily, and said that a Los Angeles court should not be handling the case, since both the reported victim and accused priest are from Mexico.

In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in September, Joaquin Aguilar Mendez alleges he was raped by the Rev. Nicolas Aguilar in a Mexico City rectory in 1994 when he was 12 years old.

According to the suit, Aguilar Mendez had gone to the priest's room to use a restroom when he was grabbed and raped.

The alleged rape came after the priest had been charged with 19 felony counts of committing lewd acts on a child in California.

The suit alleges that Rivera conspired with Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony to protect Aguilar, and accuses Rivera and Mahony of negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and sexual battery, and charges Aguilar with sexual battery.

The victim's attorney, Jeffrey Anderson, said Mahony settled with Aguilar Mendez privately last month around the same time the archdiocese reached its record-breaking $660 million settlement with alleged abuse victims.

He said Aguilar Mendez's settlement was "modest" compared with the average $1.3 million promised to other victims.

The lawsuit alleges Rivera, then a bishop in Mexico's Puebla state, transferred Aguilar to Los Angeles in 1988 for nine months despite knowing of allegations of abuse by the priest.

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