Priest's Victims Urged to Speak out
Pedophile's Brother Regrets His Silence
By Alex Roth email@example.com
Union-Tribune [San Diego CA]
April 1, 2004
The brother of disgraced former San Diego priest Edward Anthony Rodrigue made a public plea yesterday for all potential sex-crime victims of Rodrigue to come forward with their stories.
Tom Rodrigue also said he knew for decades that his brother was a pedophile but remained silent for fear of upsetting their parents.
"I was a coward," said Tom Rodrigue, 65, a former state tax administrator who lives in Reno. "My parents were still alive. I knew if my mother knew this it would kill her and if my dad knew it he would kill my brother."
He spoke at a news conference yesterday outside the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego in Clairemont. The news conference, organized by a group representing sex-assault victims of priests, was meant to criticize the church for failing to take aggressive action in locating potential victims of Edward Anthony Rodrigue.
The former priest was sentenced in 1998 to 10 years in state prison for molesting an 11-year-old developmentally disabled boy. In the past year, at least 19 people have filed lawsuits accusing Rodrigue of sexually abusing them during his years in the dioceses of both San Diego and San Bernardino counties.
Tom Rodrigue, speaking for the first time publicly about his imprisoned brother, said the two men haven't spoken since 1978, when he suspected that his brother might be attempting to molest his 9-year-old son.
He said he didn't find out his brother was incarcerated until December. Tom Rodrigue subsequently wrote to his brother in prison and received a response this month, in which his brother wrote, "These past years I have been afraid to contact you for fear of hurting you. . . . It has been very hard all these years fighting alone with no one to turn to for help."
Tom Rodrigue said he has decided to visit his brother in prison. A lawyer representing the 19 plaintiffs said Edward Anthony Rodrigue has been housed most recently at Corcoran State Prison in central California.
Rodrigue's career as a priest began in 1963, and he was assigned to many parishes over the decades, including ones in La Jolla, Lakeside, Encinitas, Calexico, Barstow, Riverside, Poway, El Centro and Ontario, according to documents compiled by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. The group organized yesterday's news conference.
In 1979, Rodrigue received probation after pleading no contest to charges of molesting a San Bernardino County boy. He was removed from the priesthood in 1992.
Margaret Schettler, who works for a Catholic church in Los Angeles and has been compiling information on Rodrigue for a year, accused the church of shuttling Rodrigue from parish to parish even though his pedophilia was common knowledge.
After yesterday's news conference, SNAP members walked into the church headquarters and attempted to deliver by hand a letter to Bishop Robert Brom. Among other things, the letter asks Brom to "go personally to every parish where Rodrigue has been and urge victims and Catholics who know of or suspect abuse to contact criminal authorities."
The group waited in the lobby for about 40 minutes but neither Brom nor his spokesman came out to meet them. The spokesman, Rodrigo Valdivia, later said he couldn't comment on the letter because the group didn't leave a copy with the receptionist.
Alex Roth: (619) 542-4558; firstname.lastname@example.org
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