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Thursday, July 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Priest Says Church Owes Him Legal Fees

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Michael Wempe, former Catholic priest and chaplain at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, says he is the only accused priest in the clergy child abuse scandal that the Los Angeles Archdiocese refuses to indemnify for legal costs.

According to Wempe's claim in Superior Court, he was found guilty on one of five criminal counts of child molestation.

Wempe says the church and hospital owe him his legal fees for the four dismissed counts, which alleged that Wempe abused a boy while working as a chaplain at Cedars Sinai. Wempe was found guilty of abuse that happened outside of the church.

Wempe claims in Superior Court that the Archdiocese has repeatedly refused to pay his legal fees, claiming that the accusations were "out of the scope of his employment."

"At all times since the scandal about priests from the Archdiocese molesting young boys became public, the Archdiocese has advanced and/or indemnified all accused priests for all legal expenses, with the exception of Father Wempe," the lawsuit states.

Wempe says he incurred $210,000 in legal bills during his successful defense of the four work-related charges.

The California Labor Code requires employers to reimburse employees for expenses incurred "in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties, or of his or her obedience to the directions of the employer, even though unlawful, unless the employee, at the time of obeying the directions, believed them to be unlawful."

His attorney, Leonard Levine, demands indemnification as Wempe's assignee.

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