The updated list of publicly accused Roman Catholic priests contains individuals who have been credibly accused, faced criminal charges or clergy abuse lawsuits, or have agreed to settlements with their victims. It is important to remember that not every individual facing legal action is guilty of a crime or liable for personal injury. Orange County priests accused of abuse are considered innocent until proven guilty.
This is the current list of the priests accused of sexual abuse in Orange County, California.1
Details of Child Sex Abuse Allegations Against Priests in the Diocese of Orange
Take a deeper look into the outcomes of these allegations, including criminal convictions, lawsuits alleging abuse, and the responses of Catholic church officials:1
- Father Andrew Christian Anderson. Ordained in 1982, he was convicted in 1986 of 26 counts of felony abuse. After continuing to molest children, he was sentenced to another 6 years in prison for violating probation. More than $4.62 million in settlements were made in Anderson’s various cases.
- Father Sofronio A. (Pon) Aranda. Ordained in 1963, he was named by the Diocese as being accused of sexual abuse of minors. He also served as a priest in Texas. A case against him was settled in 2005 for $1.55 million dollars. Deceased.
- Brother Gregory Atherton. He was sued multiple times in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Orange Diocese for sexual misconduct and abuse of minors.The Orange County case was settled for $4.1 million dollars.
- Father Lawrence J. Baird. Ordained in 1969, Baird was accused of abusing two young women. He countersued but his case was dismissed, and he was ordered to pay attorney fees. The lawsuits against him alleging abuse may still be pending.
- Father Franklin Buckman. Buckman was ordained in 1963 and accused of abuse from 1962 until 1981. He resigned from the Orange Diocese after allegations of abuse, and then was transferred to Baker, Oregon. He was included in a 2005 settlement of $1.9 million.
- Father Santino Casimano or Casamino. Moved to the California Catholic Dioceses after leaving New Mexico in 1976, he was accused in 2004 of sexually abusing two brothers. The Orange Diocese settled the case, paying the brothers $4.2 million in 2005.
- Father John V. Coffield. Ordained in 1941, he was sued for abusing minors between 1960-1962. He was not on the official Orange County register of accused priests maintained by the church. Deceased as of 2005.
- Father Richard Delahunty. He was ordained in 1965 and accused of sexually abusing a boy in 1981. A civil suit was filed against him, which was settled in 2005. The church review board also investigated the claim and has determined there was “no credible evidence” of abuse.
- Father Sinon F. Falvey. Ordained in 1945, he supervised other accused abusers and was named in a civil suit for his own alleged abuse from 1990-1992. He died in 2005 at the age of 85.
- Father Robert Foley. Foley allegedly admitted to molesting an 8-year-old boy in 1985 and was transferred to the UK, reportedly to avoid prosecution. He was transferred and did not face charges in the United States as a result.
- Father Michael A. Harris. Named in numerous civil lawsuits as an accused abuser, Harris worked in both LA and Orange Dioceses. Two of these cases were settled, one for $5.2 million in 2001 and another for $2 million in 2012.
- Father Bertrand W. Horvath. Accused of abusing boys in the 1970s, he was sued in 2002. He worked in several California dioceses and also in Las Vegas and Texas; he is now deceased.
- Father Edgardo Arrunataegui Jimenez. Ordained in Peru in 1983, Jimenez came to the Orange Diocese in 1987. He is accused of sexual abuse and moving around the world to avoid legal consequences, often using a different version of his name. The Diocese did not report accusations of abuse to the police until 2004.
- Father John Knoernschild. He was accused of sexually abusing a high school student in 1977-1978. At least one case was settled, for $10 million dollars in 2006. Deceased as of 2010.
- Father John Peter Lenihan. He reportedly admitted to sexually abusing a teenage girl, and the church settled the claim for $25,000. He continued to work as a priest and was accused again, resulting in another lawsuit settled for $1.2 million. Criminal charges were dropped by a superior court.
- Father John (Jack) W. Lord. One of six priests accused in 2003 of sexually abusing children, died of the complications of AIDS in 1989. A civil suit filed in 2003 was settled for $3.7 million in 2005.
- Father Alexander Manville. He was accused of abusing an 8-year-old boy and his brother in 1992-1993, and the survivors filed suit in 2009 and 2011. The Diocese settled the case.
- Father Thomas Joseph Mohan. He was accused of sexually abusing a child in 1978, and a lawsuit was filed in 2018. A second complaint of misconduct was filed with a Chicago Archdiocese. Mohan died in 2002.
- Father Dominic Nguyen. Nguyen was sent from California to Idaho in 2002 for sexual misconduct, and then returned to the Orange Diocese after evidence of child porn was allegedly found on his computer at church. Evidence was found to be insufficient for criminal charges.
- Father Gordon John Pillon. Ordained in 1979, he worked in Peoria and the Diocese of Orange. In 2009, a suit was filed against him for abuse of a teenager. He was forced out of the priesthood after admitting abuse to the Peoria Diocese.
- Father Timothy Ramaekers. In 2010, he faced allegations of abuse that occured in 1986. The review board did not find credible evidence to support the accusation, and the survivor filed a lawsuit in 2009. Ramaekers continues to deny the allegations and was working in a parish as of 2012.
- Father Luis Eduardo Ramirez. He was arrested in 2008 for taking a minor to a motel room, and he pled guilty to misdemeanor charges. He was sentenced to six months in jail and three years of probation, after admitting to inappropriate touching, and released in 2009.
- Father John (Jon) E. Ruhl. Accused of abusing at least three minors between 1970-1982, Ruhl was named in at least one lawsuit, which was settled in 2005 for $500,000. He is now deceased.
- Deacon Cesar Salazar. In 2001, Salazar was investigated for allegedly downloading child pornography, and he was placed on leave. He was investigated by the police and the FBI, who declined to file charges, citing lack of evidence, despite more than 100 images being found.
- Father John A. Sheahan. A 2003 clergy abuse lawsuit filed against him includes allegations of three separate victims. In that civil suit his name is spelled Sheehan. He entered medical retirement in 1970 following brain surgery.
- Father Gerardo Jarencio Tanilong. He was convicted of molesting a 15-year-old girl and pleaded guilty in 2004. He was sentenced to jail for six months, followed by three years of probation. He was on the sex offender registry as of 2012. He was listed as deceased as of 2016.
Helping Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse Find Closure
Pursuing criminal charges or a personal injury lawsuit against your abuser can be intimidating and challenging, but many survivors find that doing so helps them to heal and move forward. Having a law firm explain your rights and what options are available will inform your choices as you make this decision.
You can speak to an experienced Orange County clergy abuse attorney with no obligation to pursue legal action. At Saunders & Walker, P.A., we have helped many survivors navigate this process to seek justice and help prevent sexual predators from continuing their abuse.
If you or someone you care about is a victim or survivor of sexual abuse, contact us today to learn more about how we can help you and your family find closure, protect others, and receive fair compensation to cover the costs of therapy and counseling far into the future.