SAN DIEGO: The Jehovah’s Witnesses have been ordered to pay $13.5 million to a Southern California man who said he was molested as a child by a church member.

U-T San Diego says a San Diego judge ruled Wednesday that the church’s governing body covered up years of sexual abuse. He ordered the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York to pay Jose Lopez damages.

A lawyer for the body, Mario Moreno, denies Friday that there was a cover-up and says an appeal is planned.

Lopez says he was abused in 1986 when he was 7 by a member of the Linda Vista congregation. Six other men and one woman who also claimed the same man molested them have settled their lawsuits out of court.