Letter to California AG Regarding Loophole Keeping Children in Danger

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 23, 2019

Dear AG Becerra,

A lawsuit was recently settled between a Catholic high school and a survivor who was a student at the time of her abuse. The perpetrator was a lay teacher named Jeffrey Hicks. We call your attention to this matter because it highlights a number of contemporary failures that we hope your office will investigate and remedy.

First, although the abuse was reported when it occurred, the mandatory reporters at Presentation High School in the Diocese of San Jose failed to act. Instead, they apparently undertook an internal investigation and pressured the victim to not make a police report. If this was not bad enough, the school allowed Mr. Hicks to participate as the director of a performing arts camp after the victim’s outcry, telling her family that $65,000 had already been collected for the camp and would have to be returned otherwise. If that were to occur, the school said it would be “impossible” to protect the identity of the survivor. The teacher was then quietly let go at the end of the summer.

Second, the abuser was employed by a Catholic school within the Diocese of San Jose, but was not a clergyman. The diocese has published a list of abusive priests but does not acknowledge or name lay employees or nuns who have been accused of abuse, either those who abused at Presentation or those who abused at Bellarmine College Preparatory, also within the territory of the Diocese of San Jose. The Diocese of Santa Rosa follows the same playbook; although Hanna Boys Center is a Catholic facility within the diocese and the Santa Rosa bishop sits on its board, lay employees who have abused are not named on the Santa Rosa list.

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