Sex Abuse Suit Against Catholic Church, Riverside Priest Settled

City News Service [Los Angeles CA]

October 13, 2021

A tentative settlement has been reached in a lawsuit brought by two brothers who allege they were sexually abused by a priest at a Riverside parish more than 25 years ago, a lawyer for the pair told a judge Tuesday.

The two plaintiffs are identified only as John R.R. Doe and John R.F. Doe in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit they filed in February 2018. Tuesday’s announcement came during what was scheduled to be a final status conference with Judge David Sotelo ahead of an Oct. 25 trial of their case against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of San Bernardino, as well as the Congregation of the Mission Western Province, which conducts religious education and activities.

The Does allege they were abused by the Rev. Carlos Rene Rodriguez when he was assigned to a Riverside church that was part of the San Bernardino diocese. The parish is not identified in their suit. Rodriguez allegedly was a member of the Congregation of the Mission Western Province before, during and after the period when he is accused of molesting the two Does.

The Does’ attorney, Anthony DeMarco, told Sotelo that the resolution was reached Monday evening and that it will take about two months to finalize. The tentative terms were not divulged.

“In light of everything going on in the world the settlement is truly extraordinary,” DeMarco said.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles released a statement regarding the tentative settlement.

“Today, a matter was settled involving claims against the Archdiocese, the Vincentians and the Diocese of San Bernardino by two brothers who allege that their family met Rodriguez in Riverside in the summer of 1993, when he was misrepresenting himself as authorized to minister, and that Rodriguez molested them sometime later,” the statement read. “This matter does not involve parishes or schools of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The archdiocese was informed of the brothers’ allegation in 2018.”

Rodriguez is a former priest of the Vincentian Religious Order whose last assignment in the archdiocese ended in 1990 and his removal from the priesthood took place in May 1998, according to the archdiocese.

The judge scheduled another hearing for Jan. 11 for an update.

John R.F. Doe alleges Rodriguez began abusing him in 1993 at a time when the plaintiff was a minor and unaware the Archdiocese of Los Angeles had suspended the clergyman from the ministry for allegedly abusing other children.

In fall 2016, John R.F. Doe saw a television report regarding Rodriguez that dealt with the priest’s ministry at a church in Los Angeles and allegations he had molested children in the past, the suit states.

The plaintiff “became very upset” after hearing the report and for the first time in his life began to “actively think about Father Rodriguez and child sex abuse he had committed” upon him, the suit alleges.

John R.R. Doe says he was 7 or 8 years old when Rodriguez allegedly began molesting him, also in 1993.

In spring 2017, John R.R. Doe’s brother asked him if he had been abused by Rodriguez and the plaintiff replied that he had, the suit alleges. John R.R. Doe says his memories were affected by a longtime alcohol problem and that he also subconsciously suppressed his memories of the abuse allegations due to his feelings of shame and guilt.