Phoenix New Times
By Erasmus Baxter
A Jesuit priest who taught at Brophy College Preparatory for seven years in the 1980s and coached the boy’s football team is the latest Phoenix-area Catholic priest to be accused of sexual abuse.
In a lawsuit filed today, an anonymous alum now living in California alleges that Reverend James A. Sinnerud, S.J. engaged in sexual contact with him without his consent and when he was a minor incapable of giving consent. The lawsuit does not specify the nature or time frame of the alleged misconduct, but Sinnerud would have been been in his late 40s when he taught at Brophy.
The lawsuit alleges that Brophy, the western U.S. Jesuits chapter, and the Phoenix Roman Catholic diocese were negligent in protecting the plaintiff from Sinnerud and either knew or should have known about his abuse. It cites longstanding evidence of the Church’s efforts to conceal an epidemic of child sex abuse by clergy, including a 2003 confession by the Phoenix bishop that he had moved priests around to conceal their misdeeds.
Sinnerud was one of 38 clergy members named by the Omaha, Nebraska, archdiocese as credibly accused of sexual abuse in 2018 following a probe from that state’s attorney general. It is unclear when the incident from that allegation occurred, but the Catholic school he was working for in 2018 said it occurred before he began work at the school in 1987 after leaving Brophy. Before arriving at Brophy, Sinnerud taught at Jesuit high schools in Seattle and Portland, according to research by the law firms filing the suit.
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