Old Abuse Claims Lead to Lawsuit
By Alex Friedrich
Monterey County Herald
March 4, 2003
A well-known Santa Cruz County sheriff's deputy and three other men have sued the Diocese of Monterey, alleging that church officials failed to protect them from a priest who molested them in the 1960s.
Veteran deputy Kim Allyn confirmed that he and Robert "Jerry" Crow of Felton, Bill Collins of San Jose and a fourth, unidentified man are asking for damages of $10 million. Although their claims are decades old, they are being filed under a new state law that suspends the statute of limitations in child-abuse cases.
Allyn said Monday that the Rev. Patrick McHugh, who died in 1979 at age 65, molested them while they served under him as altar boys. The lawsuit does not name the priest who allegedly molested the boys, but the plaintiffs revealed McHugh's name Sunday in an article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. A spokesman for the Diocese of Monterey said officials had not yet seen the lawsuit but have been talking to attorneys for the men for the past two months.
The diocese "was in a process regarding the resolution of this claim," said spokesman Kevin Drabinski.
Bob Tobin, one of three attorneys representing the men, said that was news to him.
"We have never talked to anybody (from the diocese) on this case," he said.
Allyn, 50, appears often on television as spokesman for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office. He also has a Web site as a champion bodybuilder.
"I did this knowing I would take a beating, and that my family would," he said Monday of filing the suit. News of his abuse "undermines my manhood and everything I've ever stood for."
He is alleging that he was fondled when he was 11 by McHugh, a popular Irish priest at St. John's Church in Felton.
Allyn said he confided in his father, who confronted the priest. But he ended up believing McHugh's denials, the deputy said.
"That was the end of it," he said. "I got no help from anybody. And I had to go back and say Mass with this man."
For McHugh, Allyn said, church "was like his own little fishing hole."
He said no one he knows ever contacted law enforcement. And he said that he doesn't know whether any parents informed McHugh's superiors.
Still, he said the church should have known and should have acted to protect him and the others, because "there was talk about it."
Allyn said he knows of another man who was molested but is not taking part in the lawsuit. He said that man has refused to discuss his experiences.
Allyn said his abuse stopped when he was 13. He tried to go back to St. John's years later but couldn't.
"When I left the church, I was sick to my stomach," he said. "When I was in church, all I could think of was being molested."
Even though the alleged molestations would have taken place when the diocese was still the Monterey-Fresno diocese -- it became independent in 1967 -- Tobin said his group has not sued the Fresno Diocese.
"We said we're going to file it against Monterey and let them figure out how to do it," he said.
McHugh was ordained at 29 and began his service in 1943 at Sts. John Cathedral in Fresno. He worked in Central Valley parishes for almost 20 years, including one in Hilmar.
The Rev. Mark Stetz, pastor of Holy Cross Church in Santa Cruz and director of priestly life for the Diocese of Monterey, said church officials want to hear about allegations of abuse by priests, whether it was last week or 40 years ago.
"Regarding something 40 years old, I honestly don't know what to say, but it could make sense to sue," he said. "If people have these charges, they need to be heard. If someone suffered something at any point, we want to help in the healing process."
Alex Friedrich can be reached at 648-1172 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.