Priest-Molest Victim Seeks Other Victims in Taft Diocese

By Cathy Redfern
Santa Cruz Sentinel [Santa Cruz CA]
March 16, 2004

A Santa Cruz man who says he was molested by a Felton priest decades ago is hoping other victims come forward after he spent the weekend in the priest’s former Central Valley parish searching for men who might need help facing the same nightmare.

Kim Allyn, 50, now a sheriff’s deputy, and six other former altar boys sued the Diocese of Monterey last year over alleged abuse by the Rev. Patrick McHugh, who served at St. John’s in Felton from 1963 until his 1979 death.

The men say McHugh began molesting them shortly after his arrival at the parish 40 years ago, pulling them into a back room to fondle and molest them, some of them over a period of years.

Allyn says he told his father about the abuse, which occurred when Allyn was 10, but that his father believed McHugh’s explanation that he was checking Allyn’s legs, and did nothing to stop it.

"I felt trapped, horrified and scared to death," he said.

The suit alleges the diocese knew or should have known of McHugh’s pedophilia and should have protected them from him.

The priest’s behavior had a profound impact on Allyn’s life, he said, and he traveled to St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Taft in part to help others deal with the trauma such abuse carries, and to confront the Diocese of Fresno for "stonewalling" when Allyn and a private investigator tried to locate those who may have come into contact with McHugh.

They met no one who claimed to be a victim, but found one name and at least two reported victims, Allyn said.

The trip was productive, Allyn said.

"I know there are victims there," said Allyn, a board member of the Survivors Healing Center.

"And they’ve either had a lifetime of problems and they understand why, or they’ve had a lifetime of problems and they don’t know why."

"It wasn’t until I finally got help about three years ago that I was able to reassemble my life and be happy like I was before this happened to me."

Bill Lucido, communications director for the Diocese of Fresno, said the diocese is "as open as anybody."

Lucido said he is aware of the lawsuit in Santa Cruz County but has no knowledge of any sexual abuse while McHugh served in Taft. Several lawsuits were filed against the Dicoese of Fresno last year, when state legislators extended the statute of limitations for such civil suits, but none specifically name McHugh, he said.

However, some suits do not name defendants when first filed, until the allegations are proven to have merit.

"I don’t know who these people are or who they represent," Lucido said. "But if they came to us I am sure we would talk to them."

The diocese encourages victims to come forward and receive counseling and other help, he said, and the bishop has written editorials to that effect in the diocesan newspaper. Policies are also in place to educate and screen employees and volunteers, and prevent future abuse, he said.

"We deplore any sexual abuse by anyone," Lucido said.

Kevin Drabinski of the Diocese of Monterey said its attorneys moved for summary judgment in the Allyn case, asserting the plaintiffs have not made the case that the diocese had prior notice about any of the alleged abuse. That motion will be heard May 14.

A Los Angeles judge is set to rule April 8 whether 57 Northern California clergy sex-abuse lawsuits will be heard in one courtroom.


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