Some of the most publicly visible Catholic bishops and priests accused of sexually abusing minors allegedly committed their crimes in the Diocese of San Diego. In fact, the Catholic Diocese of San Diego attempted to declare bankruptcy before they agreed to pay the second largest diocese settlement to victims in the United States.1
In 2007, a landmark settlement for San Diego priest abuse was made by the diocese for 144 claims against 48 priests and another employee. The settlement took four years to achieve and totaled $198.1 million dollars, which was paid to the survivors. Since that time, even more alleged victims have come forward.
Current Allegations of Priest Abuse in San Diego
San Diego priest abuse cases are in the news, adding to the list of credibly accused priests working at parishes in San Diego. Recent changes in the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse in California and 15 other states have allowed victims and survivors to come forward with cases like these:
- Four alleged victims who decided to file suit in 2020, accusing the diocese of negligence for allowing Father Anthony Edward Rodrigue to allegedly abuse them in the 1960s and 1970s.2
- In 2021, a 54-year-old survivor filed suit against the diocese, which extended into San Bernardino County at the time the abuse allegedly occurred, regarding allegations of abuse by Father Ramon Marrufo, who served as a priest until 2019.3
- At least six lawsuits were filed in 2020 involving several priests, including the Rev. Gregory Sheridan, who was accused of sexual abuse multiple times. These suits allege that the Diocese of San Diego knowingly covered up the abuse. If the diocese did cover up cases of sex abuse and move priests to different parishes to hide their crimes, these victims might be awarded triple the normal compensatory damages in a jury trial.4
The List of San Diego Priests Accused of Abuse
The Diocese of San Diego has released a list of 53 credibly accused priests, published by ProPublica in January of 2020.5 Additional sources give rise to the current Bishop Accountability list for San Diego, which includes 61 Catholic Church clergy accused of sexual abuse.6
The complete San Diego Catholic Priest Abuse List is included here. As you go through the list, keep in mind that these individuals are innocent until proven guilty in court and, typically, settlement agreements do not include an admission of guilt. A Diocese Review Board determines if accusations are “credible.” Many settlements are paid by an independent compensation program to protect the reputation of the church officials involved.
The Diocese of San Diego Priest Abuse List6
Father John Beatty. Ordained in 1950, Father Beatty worked as a parish priest, teacher, and hospital chaplain, transferring from the Diocese of Peoria to the Diocese of San Diego in 1963. He was accused of abuse and appears in diocese lists of credibly accused priests in San Diego and Joliet, where he worked at St. Patrick High School until 1962. Beatty died in 1997.
Father James T. Booth. Father Booth was sued in two separate lawsuits in 2003. Both women alleged that Booth abused them in the 1960s. He was ordained in 1946, left the priesthood in 1971, and died in 2012. Father Booth also worked as an Episcopal priest in California, and he denied all allegations, although he appears on the Diocese of San Diego list of credibly accused priests.
Sister Bridgette. Sister Bridgette was named in a 2003 lawsuit, along with two others, for allegedly sexually abusing a young girl while working at the Nazareth House Orphanage. Also named in the suit was Rev. Robert Buchanan and Msgr. I. Brent Eagan. The same survivor filed a second lawsuit in 2006 when payment for therapy was denied. Bridgette died in 2003.
Father Robert Buchanan. Ordained in 1968, Buchanan was sued in 2003 for allegedly abusing a girl at University High School in 1972. He also worked in Reno, Nevada after leaving the San Bernardino Diocese. As of 2006, he was not active in the ministry.
Father Arthur Carrillo. Father Carrillo was ordained in 1970, and then worked in the Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center from 1970-1975 and 1987-1994. In 2019, it was publicly revealed that he was accused of abusing a young girl in the 1970s. The complaint was made to the Holy Cross Province, and he was suspended from the public ministry pending an investigation.
Father Jose Chavarin. In the 1980s, Father Chavarin allegedly abused three boys and was publicly accused in 2008. He is a native of Mexico and worked for 11 years in the Metropolitan Tribunal in the Diocese of San Diego. He first denied the allegations, and then returned to Mexico to avoid investigation. He was added to the diocese list of accused priests in 2018.
Father James Creaton. A native of Ireland, Creaton was ordained in 1940, and then came to San Diego and was assigned to Mary Star of the Sea in 1947. A 2019 document release ordered by the court revealed that he was accused of sexually abusing a child. The accusations were noted in his personnel file. Creaton died in 1964.
Father Edito D’Amora. D’Amora was ordained in 1980 as a priest in the Philippines, in the Dipolog Diocese, and he was accused in 1991 of sexually abusing a 10-year-old girl on more than one occasion. He later served as a navy chaplain. The case was settled, and D’Amora appeared in the San Diego Diocese list in 2007. His personnel file was released in 2010.
Father John Joseph Daly. Ordained in 1951, Father Daly was arrested in 1977 for allegedly abusing a minor boy, whom he picked up hitchhiking with a friend. The case was dropped shortly after the local district attorney met with a bishop. Daly had two previous arrests in La Mesa and San Bernardino for sexual molestation. The diocese relocated Father Daly, who retired in 1987 and died in 1989. A civil suit was filed in 2002 but was dismissed in 2007. His personnel file was released in 2010, but he is not on the 2007 list of credibly accused priests released by the San Diego Diocese.
Father Nelson C. Damasco. Father Damasco was a priest in the Philippines, part of the Nueva Segovia Diocese. He was an associate pastor between 1980 and 1982 in the Diocese of San Diego. He was reportedly stationed at Fort Hood in Austin, TX, and listed as an army reserve chaplain in 1984. He also worked in the Newark Archdiocese at St. Mary’s, and he died in 1988. He is listed as credibly accused in the 2007 list from the Diocese of San Diego.
Father Luis Eugene De Francisco. Alternate spellings include Luis Eugenio DeFrancisco. Ordained in 1931, De Francisco was an extern priest from Cali, Colombia, who worked in the Diocese of San Diego from 1962-1963. He was arrested in 1963 and accused of abusing the children of local migrant workers. He also worked in Florida and Texas, and he is included in the list of credibly accused priests by the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese, in 2019, and the San Diego list in 2007. He left the ministry and returned to Columbia, where he likely died in the early 1990s.
Father Donald F. Doxie. Father Doxie was accused of sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy from 1969-1972. He was ordained in 1952, and the allegations were made in 2003. Dixie worked as a secretary to Bishop Charles F. Buddy from 1955-1957 and as a navy chaplain from 1957-1961. He was a vice chancellor from 1961-1968, and he died in 1976. His personnel file was released in 2010.
Father I. Brent Eagen. Eagen was ordained in 1956 and sued in 2003 for allegedly raping a woman he befriended at the Nazareth House orphanage in 1972. Eagen moved on to become the Chancellor of the Diocese of San Diego. He died in 1997, and his personnel file was released in 2010.
Father Herman Francis Flynn. A native of Canada, Father Flynn was ordained in 1929. He worked as a priest in South Carolina, Michigan, and Virgina, as well as the Diocese of San Diego in 1963-1977. Flynn died in 1977. He was included in the list of credibly accused priests in 2007, and his personnel file was released in 2010.
Father Michael French. Ordained in 1964, Father French was accused in 2003 of abusing a boy in 1980, which resulted in a settlement. French was in San Diego beginning in 1973 while studying at the California School of Professional Psychology. He worked as a priest in the Diocese of Brooklyn, and he was a chaplain at a Benedictine convent in 1975. He also served as the Director of Catholic Community Services and the Diocesan Director of Worldwide Marriage Encounter. French died in 1995.
Father Rudolph Galindo. Father Galindo was ordained in 1954, and he was accused of sexual misconduct with an altar boy. The archdiocese settled the case in 1985 for $75,000. Galindo was then reassigned and retired in 1986. In 2002, he was sued by seven alleged victims, and he admitted to abusing three minors. Galindo was included in the San Diego Diocese list, and his personnel file was released in 2010.
Father James A. Ganahl. Ordained in 1956, Father Ganahl was accused of sexually abusing four girls between 1961 and 1963. The San Bernardino Diocese settled the case in 1999. In 2002, the Diocese of San Diego reported Ganahl to the police, but the family chose not to press criminal charges. Father Ganahl retired in 1987 and died in 2010. He appears on the list of credibly accused priests in both the San Diego and the San Bernardino Dioceses.
Father Paul Gill. Father Gill was named in a civil suit in 2002, alleging that he molested a 14-year-old boy in 1977 on more than one occasion. He was also sued in 2003 by another man who accused him of sexual abuse in 1975. Gill was ordained in 1966, retired in 1998, and was barred from the public ministry. He appears on the 2007 San Diego Diocese list of credibly accused priests.
Father Michael Higgins. Father Higgins was ordained in 1964 and was removed from active ministry prior to 1987. He was accused of soliciting sex in a confessional, allegations which he denied. Higgins sued Bishop Maher and others in 1987, stating he was falsely accused, and he appealed his case to the Vatican. The Diocese of San Diego has stated that the Pope affirmed their decision to remove his privileges, although Higgins claims he was acquitted and calls himself a retired priest.
Father Gary Michael Holtey. Holtey was ordained as a priest in 1984 and was placed on leave in 2004 when he came under investigation for child pornography. His offices at St. Charles Borromeo Church were searched and computers were seized. Father Holtey pled guilty in 2005 to ten counts of misdemeanor possession of child pornography, and he was sentenced to three years probation. He is currently listed in the Maryland Sex Offender Archive and may be living there.
Father Richard L. Houck. Father Houck is named on the Diocese of San Diego’s 2018 list of credibly accused priests. He was ordained in 1965 and allegedly molested a ten-year-old altar boy in 1968 at Most Precious Blood in Chula Vista, CA. Father Houck died in 2002, and a settlement was made in the case in 2004.
Father Patrick J. Hughes. Father Hughes was a native of Ireland and was ordained in 1953. He was accused in Ireland of abusing a 12-year-old boy in 1974, and he settled the case. He transferred to the Diocese of San Diego in 1988 and served there until 1992. Hughes then transferred to Seattle. He pled guilty in Ireland in 2010 for abuse that occured between 1979 and 1983, and he was sentenced to one year in jail. Some speculate that he might also be the “Father Loannes” mentioned in the Murphy Report.
Father Patrick J. Kearney. Father Kearney was ordained in 1953 and is a native of Ireland. He attended seminary in El Cajon and retired in 1993. He was listed by the San Diego Diocese as credibly accused in 2019, and his personnel file was released in a settlement in 2008. Kearny died in 1993, shortly after his retirement.
Father John Charles Keith. Ordained for the Jesuits in 1956, Father Keith was incardinated in the San Diego Diocese in 1961. A lawsuit was filed and settled for $95,000 in 1999, where he was accused of molesting a 12-year-old boy in 1985. Another lawsuit was filed in 2008 and settled in 2010. Father Keith denied the charges but admitted to being a recovering alcoholic. He is listed as credibly accused in the San Diego Diocese list of 2007, and his personnel file was released in 2010.
Father Robert S. Koerner. Father Koerner was ordained in 1937, and he worked in Texas until 1941, Montana until 1963, and at St. Patrick’s in Calipatria, California until 1990. In 2002, the San Diego bishop became aware that Koerner had molested several minors over his 27 years in the diocese. Father Koerner apologized to parishioners for his actions. His personnel files were released in 2013 and show he admitted to fondling and kissing children. He was named in three lawsuits in 2003 and settled four other claims. In 2020, another lawsuit was filed by five alleged victims.
Father Adalbert J. Kowalczyk. Also known as Father Albert Kowalczyk, he was ordained in 1938. Early in his priesthood he worked in Chicago, and then came to California. He was named in a lawsuit in 1993 for allegedly abusing a girl, but the case was dismissed on the statute of limitations. Kowalczyk died in 1972, and he was included on the San Diego Diocese list of credibly accused priests in 2007. His personnel file was released in 2010.
Father William Armstrong Kraft. Ordained in 1951, Father Kraft was accused of abusing several minors between 1953 and 1970. A lawsuit filed against him alleging abuse was settled in 2001 for $250,000. Several civil suits were filed in 2003, and one alleged abuse of a boy for a period of five years, starting in 1969. These claims were settled as part of the 198.1-million-dollar settlement by the Diocese of San Diego in 2007. Father Kraft is named in the diocese list, and his personnel file was released in 2010.
Father Lawrence Kurlandski. Father Kurlandski was ordained in 1942 and served as a priest at St. Joseph’s in Fontana, California between 1947 and 1949. In 2003, a woman accused Kurlandski of repeatedly molesting her at St. Joseph’s during his time there. The story was reported in the San Diego Union Tribune on December 24th, 2003.
Father George Lally. Father Lally was ordained for the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island in 1968. He transferred to the Diocese of San Diego by 1970, where he was accused of abusing a 9-year-old boy on several occasions in 1971. The allegations were made in a civil suit filed in 2002. The lawsuit alleges that after the boy reported the incident to the church, Lally was transferred. The San Diego Diocese agreed to pay college costs to the young man as a form of settlement. Lally married a former nun and left the priesthood in 1979.
Father Justin Langille. Ordained in 1980, Father Langille was suspended in 2018 due to credible allegations of sexual misconduct. He was accused of abusing a teenage girl in the early 1990s. Although the incident was reviewed by the diocese in 1990, no action was taken until it was reviewed again in 2002. Langille was given a polygraph test, which he passed. He then worked at Contemplative Outreach International in New Jersey, before moving back to active ministry in San Diego. In 2018, he was suspended because the San Diego review board found “significant new information.”
Father Michael Victor Marron. Father Marron was ordained in 1930 in Ireland. He worked in parishes in the San Diego Diocese from 1961-1963. He left the San Diego Diocese at the bishop’s request in 1963. His personnel file was released in 2010, and it states in a 1963 letter that he was “overly familiar” with children, especially girls. He is included in the Diocese of San Diego’s 2007 list of credibly accused priests. He is now deceased and was the brother of another accused priest, Peter J. Marron.
Father Peter Joseph Marron. Father Marron was a native of Ireland and immigrated to the United States at the age of 16. He was ordained in 1936 and was a navy chaplain from 1945 to 1969. He was sued by two women in 2020 who accused him of molesting them between 1976 and 1978. He is listed in the San Diego Diocese list from 2007. Father Marron died in 1998 and was the brother of accused priest Michael V. Marron.
Father Ramon Marrufo. Father Marrufo was ordained in 1976 and was assigned to St. Peter the Apostle in Fallbrook, California between 2010 and 2019. One of his earlier accusers received a settlement from an independent reconciliation compensation program (IRCP). In a new lawsuit filed in 2021, he is accused of sexually abusing a boy over several years. The abuse allegedly took place in the 1970s and started when the boy was in second grade. The lawsuit also alleges that the diocese was aware of the allegations for more than a year and did not notify the schools and parishes where Marrufo was serving.
Father Malachy M. McGinn. Father McGinn was ordained in Ireland for the San Diego Diocese in 1961. He also worked in the San Bernardino Diocese. He was named in the Diocese of San Diego’s list of credibly accused priests in 2007 and the San Bernardino Diocese list in 2018, and his personnel files were released in 2010. They show that the diocese was aware in 2002 that he was accused of abuse occurring in 1969 and 1981. He was also accused of having a sexual relationship with a 21-year-old woman at Our Lady of Solitude in Palm Springs during 1968. Father McGinn died in 1997.
Father Patrick Carl McNamara. Ordained in 1980, Father McNamara also received a law degree. He served as a priest in Chula Vista, and he took a sabbatical in 1993 and a leave of absence in 1994. Eventually he left the priesthood in 1995. He is listed as a credibly accused priest by the San Diego Diocese in their 2007 list, and his personnel file was released in 2010, but no specific information of the alleged abuse is included.
Father Mark Medaer. Father Mark (or Marc) Medaer was ordained in 1950. He transferred to the San Diego Diocese in 1959, having previously worked in Richmond, Virginia; San Antonio, Texas; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was accused in 2002 of molesting a boy in 1982 while working at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Calexico. The diocese paid for the alleged victim’s counseling. Madaer died in 1993.
Father Ricardo Meja. Father Meja is listed in the San Diego Diocese 2007 list of credibly accused priests. He was ordained in 1977, took a health sabbatical in 1998, and retired in 2006. No specific information about the accusation was released.
Father Thomas Moloney. A native of Ireland, Father Moloney was ordained in 1943. He spent his early years working in England, until WWII was over, before going to the San Diego Diocese. A lawsuit was filed in 2003 accusing Moloney of molesting a boy in 1963 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Riverside, California. His personnel file was released in 2010 and contained a letter to the bishop accusing Moloney of sexual harassment in the 1950s at Our Lady of Grace in El Cajon. Moloney died in 1986.
Father Paolino Montagna. Father Montagna worked in the Diocese of San Diego from 1972 to 1975. At some point while in the diocese, he was accused of molesting two girls. He is included in the diocese list of credibly accused priests from 2018 and is believed to be deceased.
Father Ephren Neri. Father Neri was ordained in 1945, in the Yucatan Archdiocese in Mexico. He was assigned to the Christ the King Parish in San Bernardino. A lawsuit was filed in 2019 alleging that Neri raped a 7-year-old in 1958. Also, in 1958, he denied accusations that he fathered a child. In 1960, Neri worked in Canton, OH at the Servants of the Paraclete retreat house and at several assignments in Fresno, CA. Incardinated into the Fresno Diocese in 1965, he died in 1982.
Father Robert Daniel Nikliborc. Ordained in 1955, Father Nikliborc was assigned to the Paraclete’s center in Jemez Springs, New Mexico in 1956. He then worked at Boys Town of the Desert in 1957-1969. In 2003, he was accused in a lawsuit of abusing an 11-year-old boy from 1963 to 1965 at Boys Town of the Desert. He was convicted of tax evasion in 1968, spending 97 days in jail. He was then assigned to St. Anne’s in San Diego in 1971. Nikliborc retired in 2001 and died in 2006. His personnel file was released in 2010.
Father Michael O’Connor. Father O’Connor was ordained in Ireland in 1931 for the Diocese of Los Angeles and San Diego. He served as a parish priest and a military chaplain. His personnel file was released in 2010 as part of a diocese settlement with survivors of clergy sexual abuse. No further details were provided about specific accusations against O’Connor. He died in 1965.
Father Michael Raymond O’Donohoe. Father O’Donohoe was a native of Ireland, ordained in 1938 for the San Diego Diocese. He served as a parish priest and an army chaplain. As part of his personnel file, released in 2010, the bishop wrote a letter to O’Donohoe outlining “serious complaints” from Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Twentynine Palms, San Diego, and Chicago, and it also mentions a “grave scandal.” Donohoe left the diocese a few days later, on April 10, 1961. He was assigned to a parish in Tucson, AZ, and he died in 1967.
Father Patrick J. O’Keeffe. Father O’Keeffe came from Ireland and was ordained in 1959. He was accused of abusing several girls in 1989, with lawsuits filed in 2003 in both San Diego and San Bernardino. In 2002, he was criminally charged with abusing a 17-year-old girl and fled to Ireland. Those charges were dropped under a Supreme Court ruling, and the lawsuits were settled as part of the 198.1-million-dollar settlement of 2007. He was named in the San Diego Diocese list of credibly accused priests in 2007. O’Keeffe left the active priesthood in 1994 and died in 1999.
Father Emmanuel O. Omemaga. Father Omemaga is from the Philippines and came to San Diego in 1990. He was ordained in 1983. In 1993, he was charged with 40 criminal counts of abusing a 14-year-old girl. Omemaga reportedly confessed to the diocese, surrendered faculties, and fled to the Philippines in October of 1993. A civil lawsuit was also filed against him, and he is listed in the 2007 San Diego Diocese list of priests with credible accusations on file. He was still a fugitive as of 2010.
Father Daniel Polizzi. Ordained in 1969 for the Santa Rosa Diocese, Father Polizzi transferred to the Diocese of San Diego in 1970. In 1996, he was accused of fondling a 16-year-old boy who was hospitalized and ventilator dependent. The allegations were reported by the hospital to Child Protective Services, the diocese, and the police. Polizza denied the accusations and no criminal charges were filed. He was “permanently impeded from priestly ministry” in 1997 per a diocese statement. He is listed as credibly accused by both the San Diego Diocese in 2007 and the Santa Rosa Diocese in 2019. Polizzi died in 2003.
Father Nicholas M. Reveles. Father Reveles was ordained in 1974. He was named in an article by the New Times of Los Angeles in 2002 as having been accused of abuse. There may have been a secret settlement in this case. No further details were released.
Father Franz Robier. Father Robier was ordained in Austria in 1936 and moved to San Diego in 1955. He was incardinated in 1957. Several lawsuits were filed in 2003 alleging that Robier abused and/or raped up to 24 girls during the late 1950s and early 1960s. One of the claims filed was by four sisters. The claims were settled in 2007, as part of the San Diego Diocese’s 198.1M settlement, and Robier was named in the 2007 diocese list of accused priests. His personnel files were released in 2010. He died in 1994.
Father Edward Anthony Rodrigue. Ordained in 1962, Father Rodrigue served in both the San Bernardino and San Diego Dioceses. He was sentenced to probation in 1979 for abusing a boy and, in 1998, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for abusing another boy in 1997. At least 19 lawsuits were filed accusing Rodrigue of abuse in 2003.
More lawsuits were filed alleging abuse in 2010 and 2019, for incidents that allegedly occurred in the 1960s and 1970s. Rodrigue ultimately admitted to abusing four or five boys in each of his 22 years as a priest, totaling approximately 150 children. He was released from prison in 2006 and died in 2009. He is named on both the 2007 San Diego Diocese list and on the San Bernardino Diocese list of 2018.
Father David Roll. Father Roll was ordained in 1970 and served at St. Luke’s in 1986 and the Paraclete Center in 1987. He is named in the Diocese of San Diego’s 2007 list of credibly accused priests, and his personnel file was released in 2010. Roll’s file contains notes about accusations of abuse in 1976, 1986-1987, 1993, 1994, and 2002. At least two of these allegations were regarding the abuse of young women. Roll was removed, and his faculties withdrawn in 1986, and he was placed on medical leave. He retired as disabled in 1993.
Father Joseph Rossell. Father Jose Rossell came from Spain, where he was ordained in 1930. He stayed in Colorado in 1947 and moved to San Diego in 1953, where he was incardinated in the Diocese of San Diego the following year. He transferred frequently in the first few years, and then went to St. Anthony in National City from 1956-1972. He was accused of abuse in several lawsuits, including one in 2020 where he allegedly molested two girls in catechism class. He retired to Spain in 1972 and died in 1982. He was named on the San Diego Diocese list in 2007, and his personnel file was released in 2010.
Father Joseph Russell. Father Russell was named as an accused priest in the San Diego Union Tribune in 2020. A lawsuit was filed against him under the California Child Victims Act in 2020 as well. He worked in National City, Carlsbad, El Cajon, Oceanside, and San Diego.
Father William R. Savord. Ordained in 1957, Father Savord was included in the San Diego Diocese list of credibly accused priests in 2007. He worked in the San Bernardino Diocese in 1984, and he was removed from active priesthood in 1988 without privileges. He was subsequently sent to the Servants of the Paraclete treatment center and resigned in 1990, citing problems with his “past life.” Savord died in 2004, and his personnel file was released in 2010.
Father Edward Augustine Sheehy. Father Sheehy was ordained in 1940 for the Diocese of Portland, Maine. He was a member of the Paulist Order and was named on their list of credibly accused priests in 2019. In 2003, an allegation of abuse was reported that allegedly occurred in San Diego between 1955-1957. Sheehy worked in Boston, Johannesburg, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Baltimore. His name also appears on the list of accused priests compiled by the Baltimore Archdiocese in 2019.
Father Gregory Sierra Sheridan. A native of Spain, Father Sheridan was ordained in 1935. He subsequently worked in Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, and California. He arrived in San Diego in 1948 and was incardinated in 1952. In 2006, he was accused of abusing an 8-year-old girl in 1969. In 2019, two more alleged victims came forward accusing Sheridan of abusing them at St. Jude’s Shrine of the West in Southcrest. Three more women filed suit in 2019, alleging they were abused by Sheridan in the early 1960s. In 2020, five men and women filed suit alleging abuse by Sheridan. One man accused Sheridan of violently raping him when the man was 11-13 years old. One claim was reportedly settled. Sheridan retired in 1983 and died in 1991.
Father William D. Spain. Father Spain was ordained in 1956 and retired in 1986, reportedly due to ill health. He died in 1993. He was named in the 2007 list of credibly accused priests released by the Diocese of San Diego. His personnel file was released in 2010 as part of a settlement. No details of the credible accusations were released.
Brother Thomas. Brother Thomas was named in an article in The Press-Enterprise on
July 24, 2005. Five men filed a lawsuit alleging that Brother Thomas and Father Robert Nikliborc abused them at the Boys Town of the Desert in Banning in the 1960s. One of the men was eleven years old at the time. Thomas was one of several Brothers who were included in the lawsuit identified by their first names only.
Father Matthew J. Thompson. Ordained in 1928, Father Thompson was accused in 2002 of abusing an altar boy in the late 1950s and early 1960s. A second allegation was raised, and the claims were settled as part of the $198.1-million-dollar settlement by the Diocese of San Diego. Thompson retired in 1975, died in 1976, and was named in the San Diego Diocese list in 2007. In 2009, at the request of the diocese and alleged victims, a street that was named after Father Thompson in the City of Corona was renamed.
Father Victor Uboldi. Alternate spellings include Father Victor Ubaldi. Father Uboldi was ordained in 1945. A lawsuit was filed in 1992 by a woman alleging that Uboldi (Ubaldi) abused her when she was between the ages of twelve and seventeen. Another alleged victim also came forward. Uboldi was named in the 2007 list of credibly accused priests from the San Diego Diocese. He retired in 1982 and may have moved to Italy. He died in 2001, and his personnel file was released in 2010.
Father William Valverde. Father Valverde was ordained in 1962 and, according to a 1977 news article, he worked with several community counseling centers and “delinquent” youths. He worked in both the San Diego and San Bernardino Dioceses and was a chaplain in a psychiatric hospital in Patton, California in 1977. In 2003, he was named in a lawsuit filed by two men who allege that, in the 1970s, Valverde exposed them and other minors to “alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, and deviant sex.” Valverde left the priesthood in 1983 and was listed by the Diocese of San Diego as credibly accused in 2007. These claims were settled in 2008.
Father Barry Vinyard. Ordained in 1975, Father Vinyard was named in a 2003 lawsuit alleging he abused a boy at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Calexico in 1978-1979. Vinyard has the distinction of being the first actively serving priest in the Diocese of San Diego to be named in a lawsuit. Vinyard denied the accusations against him and requested retirement status, which was granted in 2004. His personnel file for the San Diego Diocese was released in 2010.
Catholic Church Priest Abuse Settlements
Very often, civil suits filed against Roman Catholic dioceses are settled out of court. When large numbers of suits are pending, this can lead to bankruptcies and other defensive legal actions by the church. Some examples of notable settlements and other actions by the church in response to accusations of priest abuse include:7,8
- The almost 200-million-dollar settlement in 2007, which settled 144 separate lawsuits in the San Diego Diocese. The average compensation paid to victims under this agreement was $825,000. The Diocese of San Diego filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to limit the size of the settlement, but the Federal Court refused to grant the bankruptcy unless the diocese paid the full amount demanded.
- The Diocese of Los Angeles settlement for $660 million dollars, which paid 508 victims an average settlement of $780,000. Made in 2007, this settlement is the largest one made by a Catholic diocese in the United States to date.
- In 2011, The Los Angeles Archdiocese also paid a $60-million-dollar settlement to 45 alleged victims of priest abuse.
- In January of 2012, the Diocese of Spokane, Washington settled claims by up to 185 people for approximately $48 million dollars.
- The Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon paid claims to 150 alleged victims in a $75-million-dollar settlement in December of 2011.
- The Diocese of Tucson, Arizona made a $22.2-million-dollar settlement with accusers who filed suit in July of 2005, as part of their bankruptcy action filed in 2004.
- In 2012, the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa awarded a single accuser $1.5 million dollars and was facing 25 additional lawsuits totaling $7 million dollars. They filed for bankruptcy protection in an effort to halt the remaining lawsuits.
- In 2004, the Diocese of Orange paid a $100-million-dollar settlement to 87 claimants.
What You Should Know About the California Child Victims Act
Until recently, many of the priests who were credibly accused in the Diocese of San Diego were immune from criminal or civil actions because the statute of limitations for their possible crimes had expired. As you review the San Diego priest abuse list, you will see that, in many cases, new lawsuits have been filed in 2020 and 2021.
This is happening each and every day as brave survivors of child sexual abuse take advantage of the “lookback window” that is part of this new legislation. Many states have enacted similar laws allowing victims an opportunity to report sexual abuse or assault no matter how long ago it occurred. The California AB 218 legislation, also known as the California Child Victims Act, provides a limited amount of time to file criminal charges or a personal injury lawsuit against the diocese where the abuse occurred.
The lookback window under California AB 218 began on January 1, 2020 and lasts until December 31, 2022. Until this time expires, any victims of childhood sexual assault in California can file a civil lawsuit for compensatory damages or pursue criminal charges, where appropriate, no matter when the assault occured or how long ago they realized that they were victims of abuse.
The Child Victims Act also expands the definition of child sexual assault and, in some cases, may allow for triple the nomal amount of damages if a religious organization sought to knowingly cover up abuse or participated in the coverup of child sexual assault. It must be proven that there was a concerted effort to hide evidence of the crime to claim these treble damages.
Helping Survivors of Priest Abuse Come Forward
Many victims struggle with the effects of child sex abuse long into adulthood. While nothing can repay these survivors for the struggles and pain they have endured, coming forward to name their abusers and hold responsible the organizations that allow these predators to hide can be a healing experience for many people.
Clergy abuse damages faith, families, and the mental and physical health of the victims. If a loved one or you were sexually abused by a member of the clergy or a religious leader, it may be time to break the silence and lay the blame where it belongs: at the feet of the predator and those who failed to protect the children in their parish, church, or faith-based children’s camp.
The trusted priest abuse attorneys at Saunders & Walker P.A. are committed to helping survivors of abuse find justice through legal avenues in California and nationwide. Even if the alleged abuse occurred long ago, recent changes in legislation have opened a window for victims to bring criminal charges or file personal injury lawsuits.
Your free consultation is completely confidential, and our compassionate legal team has the experience and understanding to fully explain your options. Call (727) 579-4500 or contact us online today to learn more about how those options can bring empowerment and closure to survivors, families, and communities.