Professional Biography

Named one of California’s “Top 100 Attorneys” and one of California’s top 30 Plaintiff Lawyers by the Los Angeles Daily Journal, and Orange County’s most “Buzzworthy” attorney by Orange Coast Magazine, John C. Manly is California’s preeminent attorney representing victims of sexual abuse. Over the past decade, California sexual abuse lawyer John and his legal team have been heavily involved in the most significant sexual abuse actions litigated across the nation, assisting in the recovery of more than a billion dollars—through trial and settlement—on behalf sexual abuse victims. Additionally, Manly, Stewart & Finaldi’s litigation has effectuated significant non-monetary changes to the policies and procedures of youth and charitable organizations, helping to keep kids safe.

Mr. Manly took on his first sexual abuse case in 1997. The case involved a young man victimized by his priest/high school principal. After 5 years of litigation, leaving no stone unturned, Mr. Manly was able to achieve a 5.2 million dollar settlement in the action—still the largest single-victim pre-trial settlement in history for the type of abuse suffered. Manly, Stewart & Finaldi specializes in litigation of molestation, sexual harassment and exploitation actions in religious, employment, educational, familial and other settings. View our firm news page for more information.

“Mr. Manly has devoted his time to assemble a powerful team of attorneys who specialize in litigating sexual abuse civil cases on behalf of children and vulnerable adults, firmly establishing Manly, Stewart & Finaldi as the nation’s preeminent law firm in the field.”

Mr. Manly’s work was predominantly featured in the 2005 documentary “Deliver Us From Evil,” which centered around the civil prosecution of notorious predator priest Oliver O’Grady and the church officials who protected him. His exploits in this arena have garnered substantial national media attention, cementing his reputation as one of the nation’s leading authorities in the arena of sexual abuse litigation.

Published Decisions

C.A. v. William S. Hart Union High School Dist., (2012) 53 Cal.4th 861—This landmark precedent-setting California Supreme Court decision sets the scope of a California public entity’s liability for the sexually abusive acts of its agents. Mr. Manly represented a minor who sued his high school district and guidance counselor for damages arising out of sexual harassment and abuse by the counselor. The District demurred, contending that it could not be held liable for the negligence or supervisory failures of administrative personnel who knew or should have known, of the counselor’s activities. After the trial and appellate courts agreed with the Defendant’s position, Manly, Stewart & Finaldi fought this case to the California Supreme Court and prevailed. The Supreme Court issued a published decision holding the minor’s claim against the public entity, for negligently hiring, retaining and supervising the perpetrator, was legally viable.

Bar Admissions

  • State Bar of California
  • State Bar of Alaska
  • State Bar of Arizona
  • State Bar of New York
  • U.S. District Court, Central and Eastern Districts of California