|Second Man Sues Santa Rosa Diocese: Suit Seeks Damages for Alleged Child Molestation by Former Eureka Priest
By Ashley Bailey
August 27 2010
A second man is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa, alleging in a complaint filed Thursday that he was repeatedly molested as an 11-year-old by a former priest at St. Bernard's Parish in Eureka in 1983.
The suit, filed in Sonoma County Superior Court by the 38-year-old “John Doe 77,” alleges that the church committed fraud and acted negligently when it placed priest Patrick Joseph McCabe in the Eureka parish from 1983 to 1985, knowing that McCabe had been deemed a pedophile and without warning parishioners. The suit seeks unspecified damages to compensate the plaintiff for psychological and emotional injuries, as well as reimbursement for medical and mental health expenses.
According to the suit, the diocese “had a duty to not hire and/or retain McCabe, given McCabe's dangerous and exploitive propensities.”
Last week, a 35-year-old Humboldt County man filed a similar lawsuit, alleging he was molested by McCabe when he was a 9-year-old altar boy for St. Bernard's in 1984.
Both plaintiffs filed the case under the alias “John Doe” under privacy rights granted by the California Constitution due to the sensitive nature of the allegations. Both “John Does” received credit for their tuition by working with McCabe.
Diocese Director of Communications Deirdre Frontczak said the diocese has not seen the suit and could not comment.
”John Doe 77” first met McCabe as his parish priest and counselor while attending St. Bernard's School and church, according to the complaint.
The suit alleges that McCabe molested “John Doe 77” on a weekly basis in the St. Bernard's rectory for approximately nine to 12 months.
McCabe, now 74, is currently in the process of being extradited to Ireland to face charges of molesting six boys there between 1973 and 1981. He reportedly left the church in 1988.
McCabe was transferred to St. Bernard's Parish -- which comprises St. Bernard's and St. Joseph churches -- after molestation allegations began surfacing against him in Dublin. McCabe arrived in Eureka, reportedly just months after he was deemed a pedophile, enrolled in a treatment program and was placed on medications intended to rein in his sexual desires.
Monsignor Gerard Brady, who headed St. Bernard's Church from 1979 to 1984, has insisted he didn't know of McCabe's past when he welcomed him to the local parish. However, a report by Irish Circuit Court Judge Yvonne Murphy -- known simply as the “Murphy Report” -- indicates higher-ranking church officials did know of McCabe's past. According to the report, the transfer to the United States was arranged by Dublin Archbishop Dermot Ryan and former Santa Rosa Bishop Mark Hurley after allegations about McCabe surfaced in Dublin in 1982.
According to the report, Ryan simply asked Hurley to “rid me of this troublesome priest.”
Both suits allege that church officials have historically refused to disclose information regarding clerics' sexual abuse to parishioners, and even fellow clerics, as a way to maintain secrecy and keep scandals under wraps. Consequently, the suit alleges, parishioners of St. Bernard's were never warned that McCabe, a known pedophile, posed a risk to them and their children. In contrast, the suit alleges that parishioners -- and the plaintiff specifically -- were encouraged to trust, obey and respect McCabe.
Joseph George, a Sacramento-based attorney representing both “John Does” claiming to have been abused by McCabe at St. Bernard's, said McCabe's victims are only now learning -- largely through media reports -- that Hurley knew of the credible allegations in McCabe's past when he placed the troubled priest in Eureka.
George said he also has information that Hurley received a “credible allegation of child sexual abuse” made against McCabe in Eureka in 1985.
Hurley died in 2001, but current Santa Rosa Bishop Daniel Walsh penned a letter on Aug. 17 to St. Bernard's parishioners asking anyone “who might have been mistreated by this priest to come forward so that the church might apologize and ask forgiveness as well as offer to help to overcome any damage done.” The letter goes on to state that past clergy sexual abuse of minors is a “great shame” for the church.
The letter urges any parishioners who may have been abused by McCabe to call the diocese's Child Youth Protection Office.
Victims advocates argue that those calls would be better placed elsewhere -- either to law enforcement or the organization Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
Joey Piscitelli, the northwest director for SNAP, said Walsh simply has no credibility on the issue, as he has previously fallen in trouble with the law for failing to report abuse in a timely manner.
”We hope that McCabe being exposed and pursued helps his victims achieve some degree of healing and closure,” he said in a press release.
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