Settlement Reached in LA Priest Sex Abuse Suit
By Bill Hetherman
NBC Los Angeles
March 22, 2017
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has settled a lawsuit brought by a 29-year-old man who alleged he was forced to read verses from the Bible while being sexually molested in the 1990s by his head parish priest.
Lawyers for the plaintiff, identified in his Los Angeles Superior Court complaint only as John CP Doe, filed a notice of settlement Thursday with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ruth Kwan. No terms were divulged.
In their court papers arguing for dismissal of the plaintiff's case, archdiocese attorneys stated that the plaintiff admitted there were no witnesses to his alleged abuse by Monsignor Alfred Hernandez, and that he could not provide evidence the archdiocese knew of the molestation he claimed to have suffered.
The plaintiff's court papers stated that Hernandez used his position to get access to the plaintiff when the boy was in the first grade and a student at the parish school he attended. His court papers did not identify the parish and school, but lawyers for the archdiocese stated in their documents that
Hernandez retired in 1996 after 18 years as pastor at St. Ignatius of Loyola Church in Highland Park.
An archdiocese spokeswoman issued a statement Tuesday regarding the settlement and the alleged abuses by Hernandez.
"During his 41 years as a priest, Monsignor Alfred Hernandez had no other allegations or complaints of inappropriate conduct of any kind," the statement read. "He died in 2014. The archdiocese received the report of the allegation before Hernandez died. The archdiocese and law enforcement collaborated in an attempted investigation of the matter, but Hernandez was too ill to be interviewed. The allegations involved purported conduct when the claimant was a minor, but were never substantiated."
The plaintiff's lawyers could not be immediately reached.
Hernandez was looked up to as a "grandfather" figure by the children at the school, who would hug him as he walked by the playground, the plaintiff's court papers stated.
"Hernandez heard confessions by the children and was likely invited to the homes of the students for family dinners," the plaintiff's court papers stated. The monsignor also went to classrooms and handed out report cards to students, including the plaintiff, the man's court papers stated.
The plaintiff was 6 years old when he began attending classes at the school and his first-grade teacher told him to go with Hernandez to the rectory after the pastor showed up in the classroom in the fall of 1993, the plaintiff's court papers stated.
"Upon entering the rectory, Hernandez sat the plaintiff on a couch and began caressing his leg," the plaintiff's court papers stated. Hernandez would sexually abuse the boy for 30 minutes to an hour, then send the boy back to class, according to the plaintiff's court papers.
During the third time Hernandez summoned the boy to the rectory by his teacher, Hernandez sodomized the boy as the child read passages from the Bible as ordered by the pastor, the plaintiff's court papers state.
"Hernandez deliberately picked specific portions of the bible with plaintiff recalling being made to read from the Galatians," the plaintiff's court papers state.
The boy was sexually abused by Hernandez "every couple of weeks until the end of the school year," according to the plaintiff's court papers. He remained a student at the school through the end of the third grade, his court papers stated.
The alleged abuses affected the plaintiff's education and he did not graduate from high school, his court papers stated. He also began drinking and taking drugs at age 14 and attempted suicide in 2010, his court papers stated.
He has remained sober since March 2014, according to his court papers. The plaintiff did not tell anyone about the alleged molestation until he was 25 years old and spoke with a therapist in February 2013, when he realized there was a connection between the abuses and the damages he suffered as an adult, his court papers stated.
The suit was filed in October 2014.