The Region
Brothers File Suit against Ex-Priest
The Grown Men Say They Were Molested by Father Carl Sutphin in a Camarillo Church from 1971 to 1975.

By Fred Alvarez
Los Angeles Times
December 23, 2003

Two brothers who allege they were molested by a former Ventura County priest filed a civil lawsuit against him Monday.

Because of rules imposed by the state Legislature, the lawsuit did not immediately identify the defendants.

But Ventura attorney Philip Erickson, who is representing the alleged victims, identified the retired Catholic priest as Carl Sutphin. He had been charged criminally with molesting six boys between 1968 and 1978 while serving as an associate pastor at a Camarillo church and a chaplain at an Oxnard hospital.

Those charges were dismissed earlier this year after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling struck down a California law allowing decades-old sex abuse cases to be prosecuted.

Erickson said the lack of a criminal prosecution pushed the brothers to pursue the civil action. He intends to ask a judge to name Sutphin and the Los Angeles Archdiocese as defendants in the suit.

"Both my clients were hoping to achieve some justice, some resolution, through the criminal justice system," Erickson said.

"When the district attorney's office no longer was able to move forward with its case, this was really the only method for them to obtain any sort of justice."

Sutphin, reached Monday at his Ventura residence, declined to comment.

The lawsuit contends that the alleged victims, now 43 and 40, were molested between 1971 and 1975.

The abuse is alleged to have occurred at St. Mary Magdalen Church in Camarillo, where Sutphin served as head priest and the brothers served as altar boys.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified sum for punitive and other damages.


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