The Evolution of Father Edward Fitz-henry’s Career in the Diocese of Monterey.
By Mary Duan and Sara Rubin
Monterey County Weekly
September 12, 2013
1985: Fr. Edward Fitz-Henry is ordained as a priest and begins serving in the Diocese of Monterey.
1990: Fitz-Henry begins serving at Carmel Mission.
Summer, 1990: A mother reports sexually abusive behavior by Fitz-Henry toward her two sons to the Diocese. “They thought that I had shown too much affection or interest or friendship,” Fitz-Henry said in a deposition in 2011.
September, 1991: A 12-year-old victim of sexual abuse by Fr. John Velez reports the abuse to a priest. The Diocese of Monterey places Velez in a retreat center, and does not report the allegations to law enforcement.
Late 1992: The Diocese sends Fitz-Henry to three and a half weeks of treatment at Servants of the Paraclete in Jemez Springs, N.M., a residential congregation for priests and monks specializing in therapy and recovery from addiction, depression and pedophilia, among other issues.
Jan. 17, 1993: Fr. Fitz-Henry signs off on recommendations and guidelines for care filed by Servants of the Paraclete. This year, Fitz-Henry is reassigned from Carmel Mission.
1993: Fitz-Henry returns to Servants of the Paraclete for a five-day follow-up consultation.
1995: Fitz-Henry is assigned to Mission San Juan Bautista.
1997: California clergy members become mandated reporters of suspected child abuse.
2004: The Diocese of Monterey publishes a guide to the “Safe Environment Program,” laying out rules for overnight visits, physical contact and reporting suspected child abuse.
2005: Fitz-Henry is reassigned to Madonna del Sasso parish in North Salinas.
Late 2005: A 15-year-old boy, later identified in court papers as “John RJ Doe,” begins attending mass at Madonna del Sasso. Over the next two years, John Doe is allegedly sexually abused by Fitz-Henry.
2007: The mother of the two victims in the 1992 incident learns Fitz-Henry is again working at a parish with children. She writes a letter to Bishop Richard Garcia asking that Fitz-Henry be reassigned. Fitz-Henry is reassigned from Madonna del Sasso to Mission San Juan Bautista.
May 29, 2009: The John Doe who was abused by Fr. Velez settles with the Diocese for $1.2 million.
June 1, 2010: Bishop Garcia sends a letter to congregants with his reflections on the Diocese of Monterey’s commitment to protecting children. “I promise you, the faithful in this Diocese, that I will do my best to learn from the past,” he wrote. “I hope and pray that there will never be another child abused by anyone, especially anyone associated with the Catholic Church or most particularly with the Diocese of Monterey.”
November-December 2010: John Doe tells Fr. Nicholas Milich that Fr. Edward Fitz-Henry sexually abused him in 2005. “He told me he was already working with an attorney,” Milich later wrote in a statement to Tom Riordan of the Diocese. “Because of this, I did not believe I needed to report at that time. In retrospect, I realize that I should have at least reported to Bishop Garcia.”
Jan. 7, 2011: The Diocese of Monterey receives a letter from John Doe’s attorneys alerting them to the alleged sexual misconduct. Diocesan officials report to the police and assign a volunteer independent review panel to look into the allegations with the assistance of private investigator Don Cline, a retired Salinas detective. Fitz-Henry is suspended from ministry pending the investigation.
Feb. 1, 2011: John RJ Doe, accompanied by attorney Vince Finaldi, files a report at the Salinas Police Department.
Feb. 10, 2011: Dr. Marc Tunzi, a physician at Natividad Medical Center and the chairman of the Diocese’s internal review board, writes this resolution after the board concludes its internal investigation: “The Independent Review Board finds that the allegation against Fr. Fitz-Henry from 1992 constitutes a credible violation of the Charter for the Protection of Young People.”
Feb. 14, 2011: Bishop Garcia sends letter to congregants alerting them to the allegations against Fitz-Henry, reporting that the 1992 allegation was credible, while the more recent one is not.
Feb. 15, 2011: John Doe files a lawsuit in Monterey County Superior Court against the Diocese of Monterey and Fr. Fitz-Henry.
April 15, 2011: Monterey County Superior Court Judge Kay Kingsley rules that John Doe may remain anonymous in court proceedings, over the objections of defendants.
Oct. 31, 2011: The Salinas Police Department concludes its investigation and turns over its findings to the Monterey County District Attorney’s office. The DA declines to file charges.
April 27, 2011: Fitz-Henry’s attorneys file a motion for protective order, seeking to seal certain documents, claiming psychotherapist-patient privilege applies. The diocese follows with a motion in support; John Doe’s attorneys object.
June 17, 2011: Monterey County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wills rules in favor of the protective order, effectively sealing records from the publicly available court file. Parties are required to file all court papers under seal, and Wills decides upon review what can be included in the public file.
Jan. 31, 2012: Fitz-Henry sues the Diocese for defamation, disclosure of private information and infliction of emotional distress, alleging they threw him under the bus and failed to protect him from unproven allegations.
Feb. 17, 2012: John Doe and Fitz-Henry announce they’ve reached a settlement. The Diocese admits no wrongdoing but pays John Doe $500,000 in exchange for dropping his lawsuit.
April 23, 2013: Fitz-Henry and the Diocese reach a settlement for an undisclosed sum of money. As part of the agreement, Fitz-Henry agrees to be “laicized,” or permanently stripped of his priestly duties.
May 21, 2013: The Monterey County Weekly files a motion to unseal court documents.
Sept. 10, 2013: Judge Wills permits attorneys to release certain documents to the public. Wills decides to review documents obtained through discovery to determine whether privilege still applies.
(Upcoming) Oct. 23, 2013: Judge Wills orders attorneys for the Diocese of Monterey and Fitz-Henry to produce up to 1,000 pages of documents for his review. He will issue a preliminary decision on Nov. 7 on what – if anything – will be released to the media.