Sacramento Priest Accused of Sexual Assault Removed

Associated Press State & Local Wire
April 5, 2002

Rancho Cordova -- A Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting two young men in the 1970s and 1980s was removed from his parish here after angry parents complained.

The Rev. Michael Walsh left the St. John Vianney Church in Rancho Cordova on Thursday because "the situation was no longer tenable," the Rev. David Deibel, vicar episcopal of canonical affairs for the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, told The Sacramento Bee.

He said the church and diocese received complaints from a small but vocal group of parents at the parish, as well as from parents who have children enrolled at the adjoining school.

Diocesan officials declined to say where Walsh was being transferred. They said they would inform parishioners at his new church this weekend.

"All I can say at this point is that he will not be in a church residence where he will have access to young people," Deibel said. "I cannot tell you the exact location."

Walsh, 55, was accused of getting two young men drunk and assaulting them after they asked him for advice. The incidents allegedly occurred about a decade apart, one in Oroville in the early 1970s and one in Sacramento in the mid-1980s.

Both cases were settled out of court, one after a $5 million lawsuit was filed against Walsh and the Sacramento diocese.

Walsh has denied the allegations and has refused to comment.


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