Pair Say Priest Molested Them

By Jennifer Garza
Sacramento Bee (California)
January 31, 2003

Saying they have a taped confession, two men are suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, alleging they were molested by a local priest more than two decades ago and that the diocese covered it up.

Diocesan officials say they do not know anything about the tape.

"This is the first I've heard about it, so I can't comment on it," said the Rev. James Murphy, spokesman for the diocese.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Sacramento Superior Court, Michael Beam and Paul "Doe" claim that the Rev. Michael Walsh admitted to at least one of the alleged molestations in the taped conversation between the priest and "Doe" and that diocesan officials have withheld that information. The suit against the diocese claims fraud, emotional distress and recision of previous confidentiality agreements.

"All along there have been blanket denials, but we have an admission of truth," plaintiffs' attorney Joseph George said.

Both men allege they were molested by Walsh when they went to see him for counseling. Beam claimed he was assaulted in 1973; "Doe" in 1985.

Both men previously sued the diocese and Walsh in April. That case was dismissed after the men obtained new legal counsel.

George says that he discovered the 1985 tape after taking over the case. The tape was made as part of a police investigation, he claims. George says the conversation between Walsh and "Doe" shows that the priest admitted the molestation.

Sacramento police officials said they did not have immediate access to older case files and could not comment.

In transcripts of the tape provided to The Bee, the priest says in a lengthy conversation that he feels "grief" and "some kind of financial responsibility." He also says he told the bishop (Bishop Francis Quinn at the time) what happened.

It is unclear, however, what the priest is referring to.

Walsh is still a priest in the diocese but has been removed from active ministry. He could not be reached for comment.


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