Sexual abuse victim of former coach speaks about court fee dispute involving Sacramento Diocese
The sexual abuse victim of a former St. Francis High School softball coach who sued the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento for failing to protect her said Wednesday she is being unfairly made to pay the church’s court fees.
Bailey Boone sued the school and church in 2017 after she was sexually abused as a 16-year-old by her St. Francis softball coach, Michael Martis. Martis pleaded guilty to having sex with minors the same year, and was sentenced to four years in prison.
After she withdrew her lawsuit earlier this year, Boone’s lawyer, Joseph C. George Jr., said attorneys representing the church gave Boone an “extreme” choice: She could promise not to refile and lawyers wouldn’t request roughly $7,330 in a “memorandum of costs” (a court fees bill), or refuse and pay up.
In response, diocese spokesman Kevin Eckery said the church does not want money from Boone and is working to get court costs waived. He said the request for her to pay was made by the attorneys hired by the insurance company defending the diocese.
“We have made this point clear to our insurer and the law firm representing our insurer in this case,” Eckery said. “She’s not going to pay a dime.”
When a plaintiff withdraws a lawsuit, it isn’t unusual for the defendant to request the plaintiff cover court fees such as deposition or filing costs.
But Boone’s lawyers and advocates with Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, say such requests are rare in abuse cases, particularly those involving churches.
“I don’t understand it,” Boone said Wednesday outside the diocese’s headquarters. “I’m 22 years old, I’m the victim here, and all I’m trying to do is speak out and help others who are in similar positions as me.”
In a tentative ruling last month, Sacramento Superior Court Judge David Brown denied Boone’s request to strike the costs.
“The fact that Plaintiff may be able to re-file this matter [in another action] is irrelevant,” Brown wrote. “Defendants are seeking costs for defending this action and under the statute they are entitled to costs in this action.”
Eckery, the diocese spokesman, said that Boone’s assault was a traumatic event and that she “does not deserve any more trauma or frustration.”
“This is essentially a dispute between attorneys at two law firms who couldn’t get along and decided to stick it to each other without regard to the impact on Ms. Boone or the diocese, their respective clients in the matter,” Eckery said in a statement.
Boone withdrew her lawsuit in January to give George’s firm more time to investigate and build a case that will be “as successful as possible” when refiling, George said. Under the California statute of limitations, Boone has until her 26th birthday to refile.
“I am definitely refiling, that was never a question,” Boone said. “But now I’m going to come out harder than ever before,”