2 Former Mater Dei High School Students Accuse Ex Principal And Counselor Of Sex Abuse


Dec. 27, 2019

Two former Mater Dei High School students have sued the Diocese of Orange this week, alleging they were victims of sexual abuse at the hands of a former counselor and a former principal while attending the private Catholic Santa Ana school.

The plaintiffs, a man and woman whose names were not revealed in the lawsuits filed in Orange County Superior Court, allege they were abused when they were 15 years old.

They filed the lawsuits under a new law that allows for a three-year window of claims that would otherwise be barred by a statute of limitations.

The woman, who was born in 1980, alleged in her lawsuit filed Thursday that she was abused by former counselor Bernie Balsis in 1995 when she was a student at the private Roman Catholic high school, located at 1202 W. Edinger Ave.

The other lawsuit was also filed Tuesday by a man born in 1963 who alleges he was sexually assaulted by former Mater Dei principal the Rev. Michael Harris.

According to the woman’s lawsuit, Balsis “befriended” her and would “summon her into his office under the guise of providing counseling services,” but then “proceeded to tell plaintiff that he loved her, hugged her and pressed his erect penis against her while his hands were underneath her skirt manipulating her buttocks,” the lawsuit alleges.

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