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  2 Priests Accused in Separate Sex Cases Cleric Named in Warrant Reportedly Has Vanished

By Sandi Dolbee
San Diego Union-Tribune
November 16, 1993

The Roman Catholic Church faced sexual abuse allegations on two fronts yesterday after an arrest warrant was issued for a missing priest accused of molesting a 14-year-old Chula Vista girl, and an Oceanside woman filed a lawsuit alleging she was molested by a San Bernardino priest 30 years ago.

The suit was filed in San Bernardino Superior Court by Sandra Graves, 40, who this year founded the local chapter of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a nationwide support group.

Graves' suit alleges that the Rev. Adalbert J. Kowalczyk repeatedly molested her in 1963 and 1964 while she was a student at the Church of the Resurrection's parochial school in San Bernardino. She was 10 years old.

Kowalczyk has since died. The suit alleges that the church "was aware of his propensity and his capacity to abuse children, particularly young girls, and took no steps to prevent it," said Graves' attorney, Joseph Dunn, in Costa Mesa.

The San Diego bishop is named as a defendant, along with the church and the San Bernardino bishop, because the two counties were part of the same diocese when the molestations allegedly occurred, Dunn said.

Mark Brumley, a spokesman for the San Diego diocese, said he was not aware of the lawsuit or the deceased priest.

Graves and other SNAP representatives were in Washington yesterday to meet with a task force of bishops studying clergy misconduct. The bishops opened their national meeting with a spirited defense of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago, who was accused of sexual abuse in a lawsuit filed Friday.

Meanwhile, the San Diego County District Attorney's Office issued a warrant yesterday for the arrest of the Rev. Emmanuel Omemaga on charges that he molested a 14-year-old girl while he was associate pastor at the Church of the Most Precious Blood in Chula Vista, according to police Sgt. Mike Becker.

Omemaga, a 35-year-old priest from the Philippines, was instructed to contact authorities almost two weeks ago, Brumley said. "It is as if he vanished from the face of the earth," the diocesan spokesman said. "We have no idea where he is."

The investigation began last month after the girl's mother contacted the diocese and the police. By then, Omemaga had been transferred to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Lakeside as part of a routine shuffling of assignments.

Omemaga met with Bishop Robert Brom Oct. 8 and surrendered his authority to be a priest, Brumley said. He then went to the Philippines to meet with his bishop, but returned to San Diego, presumably to cooperate with authorities.

Becker said investigators searched Omemaga's Lakeside rectory while he was in the Philippines and found several sexually explicit photographs of the alleged victim.

Authorities said the molestations allegedly occurred in August and September, including during a trip in August to World Youth Day to see the pope. However, the church's youth leader yesterday denied that there was any wrongdoing during that trip.

"The trip was a wonderful trip. There was no indication of anything unusual," said Sister Camille Crabbe, who led a group of about 24 participants, including Omemaga and the girl, to Denver for World Youth Day.

Diocesan officials said the girl has been offered counseling and pastoral assistance. "Our principal concern is for her," Brumley said. "Obviously we want to be sure that everyone is treated fairly, but in this particular case, our principal concern is for the girl."

 
 

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