Hide the Buggering Priests!
A Brief History of Pedophilic-Priest Shuffling in the Diocese of Orange

By Gustavo Arellano
Orange County Weekly
July 9, 2004

[See also other articles by Gustavo Arellano.]

For the next year, the Dallas Morning News will publish a monumental series exposing how Catholic churches across the globe transferred child-molesting priests to poorer, more isolated dioceses. We're talking American Samoa, Coachella, Tijuana, Tustin . . . Tustin?!

Blame the inclusion of those last three locations on the Diocese of Orange. Not to be outdone by other notorious priest-shuffling dioceses in such places as Los Angeles and Boston, our local see has shipped off its share of pederast priests during its 28-year history to impoverished parishes on Indian reservations, in Tijuana slums and within the 909 area code. In addition, other Catholic churches from across the country also used Orange County as a dumping ground for their kiddie-fiddling clergy, sometimes with the full knowledge of Orange diocesan officials. Here are 10 of those fathers, all identified by the Diocese of Orange as having sexually abused children during their stint in the county.


Sofrorio Aranda. Aranda's last OC assignment was at La Habra's Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1979. Diocese records then list him as . . . well, they don't list him for the next two years until he reappears in 1981 at the Diocese of San Bernardino, which covers San Bernardino and Riverside counties. For the next eight years, Aranda bounced around from obscure desert city (Trona!) to obscure desert city (Mecca!) before finally ending up at the Soboba Indian Reservation in San Jacinto in 1991.

Franklin J. Buckman. Accused of molesting three children while at St. Polycarp in Stanton and other parishes in Los Angeles and Orange counties from 1962 to 1984, Buckman went "on assignment" in 1985 to the Diocese of Baker, a rural area encompassing the Klamath Indian Reservation in southern Oregon. Buckman stayed "on assignment" there for the next 17 years until his removal from the ministry in 2002.

Santino Casimano. Casimano stayed only four years in the Diocese of Orange—his last gig was at St. Anthony Claret in Anaheim in 1979—before enlisting in the Armed Forces as a Navy chaplain. For the next 21 years, he traveled from port to port, servicing sailors until retiring in 2000. Casimano resigned as principal at a Connecticut Catholic high school earlier this year after two county men filed a lawsuit against Casimano alleging abuse while he served in Orange County.

Robert Foley. According to a 2002 Morning News report, in 1985, Michael Driscoll—then chancellor for the Orange diocese, now Bishop of the Diocese of Boise—wrote a letter to a priest in Liverpool, England, begging him to take the Reverend Robert Foley. Foley had just admitted to molesting an eight-year-old boy during a camping trip organized by St. Justin Martyr in Anaheim. The boy's mother, Driscoll wrote, "has threatened to go to the police," and Foley "is in jeopardy of arrest and possible imprisonment if he remains here." Foley left the U.S. for England; he never faced prosecution for the molestation. Driscoll later apologized for his actions—after the Morning News report.

John Kenney. Kenney started his career in 1975 at St. Cecilia in Tustin, moved to St. Norbert in Orange two years later, then was transferred to the Diocese of Baker, where he died in a car accident on July 24, 1977. The Orange diocese lists him as a child molester; lawsuits filed in Bend, Oregon, allege the same.

Eleuterio "Big Al" Ramos. King of the county pedophiles, Ramos admitted to molesting at least 25 boys during a decade-long stint in the county. Like Buckman, Ramos also went "on assignment" for the Orange diocese—in his case, in Tijuana, Mexico, where he remained until Orange diocesan officials finally defrocked him in 1991.


Richard T. Coughlin. In 1988, the Boston Archdiocese let Orange diocesan officials know that they had received a child-abuse complaint against Richard T. Coughlin, then the head of the All-American Boys Choir in Costa Mesa. Our Catholic hierarchy did nothing about the notice until five years later, when they suspended Coughlin on suspicion of systematically fondling boys for nearly 30 years.

Jerome Henson. Sacramento-area police officers caught Henson in flagrante delicto with a 13-year-old in a graveyard on a summer night in 1981. This boneyard tryst did not stop former Orange Bishop Norman McFarland—then the bishop of Reno—from receiving Henson just five days after the incident, nor did it dissuade McFarland from shipping Henson down to Orange County in 1984, where McFarland would join him two years later.

Henry Perez. Perez left the Orange diocese in 1991 after the Diocese of Phoenix let Orange officials know Perez molested children there during the early 1980s.

Siegfried Widera. Despite a warning from the Milwaukee Archdiocese that Widera once underwent a "moral problem having to do with a boy" (the "moral problem" was a child-molestation conviction), Orange officials nevertheless welcomed Widera to county parishes in 1976. Once here, Widera went on to sexually assault at least four other boys before officials exiled him to New Mexico in 1985.



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