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  County Diocese Faces Sex Suit
Victim Says Priest's Criminal Past Known

By Felisa Cardona
San Bernardino Sun (San Bernardino, CA)
June 23, 2003

RANCHO CUCAMONGA - A 37-year-old man is suing the dioceses of San Bernardino and San Diego and St. George Catholic Church in Ontario alleging that he was molested by a former priest who has a criminal record of sexually assaulting boys.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in Rancho Cucamonga Superior Court,claims the San Diego Diocese knew of the former Rev. Edward Anthony Rodrigue's propensity for pedophilia.

Bernadeane Carr, spokeswoman for the San Diego Diocese,said she could not comment on the lawsuit.

The man's lawyer, Anthony DeMarco of Beverly Hills, said the SanDiego Diocese, of which Catholic churches in San Bernardino and Riverside counties were a part until 1978, knew about Rodrigue's problems and continued to allow him to be with children.

The San Bernardino Diocese was created in November 1978 andincludes San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

DeMarco said Rodrigue molested his client in 1977 when he was an11-year-old altar boy. The child was also a student at the parochial school attached to the church.

"The priest was allowed to minister to children, unsupervised,despite the knowledge of the ... [diocese] that he had been molesting children at his previous assignments,' the lawsuit says.

In the summer of 1976, Rodrigue was assigned to Our Lady ofSoledad Church in Coachella, according to the lawsuit.

Employees of the parish were informed that the San Diego Diocesehad placed Rodrigue in the parish because he had been molesting children, the lawsuit says.

While at Our Lady of Soledad, the lawsuit says, Rodriguecontinued to be in contact with children, with many coming to his rectory room or being taken on rides in his truck.

In 1977, Rodrigue was transferred to the Ontario church.

While there, he continued to molest children, the lawsuit says.

"At the time of the sexual abuse ... [Rodrigue] represented to ... [the victim] that the sexual contact was an appropriateactivity,' the lawsuit says. "[Rodrigue] ... made these statements to induce ... [the victim] to allow sexual conduct to occur and to induce ... [the victim] to not report the sexual conduct.'

The boy, who is now an adult, suffers psychologically from theabuse, according to the lawsuit.

Rodrigue has a criminal record for molesting boys.

In 1979, he pleaded no contest in the sexual assault of anOntario boy. He was placed on probation and in 1980 was sent to Cavena Treatment Facility in Azusa for psychiatric treatment, according to a separate lawsuit filed June 2 by two boys who say they were also molested by the former priest.

Rodrigue was laicized the Catholic Church's technical term forremoval from the priesthood in 1992 after allegations of sexual abuse arose at the Diocese of San Bernardino.

In 1997, Rodrigue was arrested in the sexual assault of an 11-year-old developmentally disabled boy at the Highland apartment complex where the former priest worked as a janitor.

He pleaded guilty in 1998 to two counts of lewd and lasciviousacts with a minor and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He is serving his time at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, according to the June 2 lawsuit.

Monday's lawsuit does not specifically name the dioceses,Rodrigue or St. George as defendants, but it's clear who is being sued from the description in the lawsuit.

A 2002 state law prevents defendants in such lawsuits from beingnamed until a judge orders a trial, an effort to avoid frivolous and damaging lawsuits.

 
 

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