Suit Says Priest Molested Boy
Allegation: The Accuser, Now 25, Says the Incidents Began in 1983 at an Inland Church

By Michael Fisher
The Press-Enterprise [California]
October 4, 2004

A man has sued the dioceses of San Bernardino and San Diego, claiming he was molested for six years by a priest assigned to St. Matthew's Catholic Church in Corona during the 1980s.

In a lawsuit filed Friday in San Bernardino County Superior Court, the 25-year-old accuser claims he was repeatedly sexually abused between 1983 and 1989 by the Rev. Michael Bucaro, now assigned to the prison ministry at the California Institution for Men in Chino.

Bucaro, 52, could not be located for comment.

The Rev. Howard Lincoln, spokesman for the Diocese of San Bernardino, said by phone Monday that Bucaro is aware of the lawsuit and he is cooperating with diocesan officials.

There is no record of any past complaint of any kind of sexual conduct in Bucaro's personnel file, Lincoln said, adding that the diocese learned of the lawsuit from a reporter.

When such allegations are made against a priest or deacon, diocesan officials conduct a preliminary investigation and may relieve the accused of his ministerial duties, according to a 2002 policy adopted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"He is not on administrative leave because we just found out about this," Lincoln said.

The accuser is identified only as John Doe in the lawsuit. His attorney could not be reached for comment Monday.

The accuser, whose family attended St. Matthew's in the early 1980s, claims that he was about 5 years old when the alleged abuse began, and that it occurred at different places, including the grounds of St. Matthew's, according to the lawsuit. The man claims in his suit that the abuse continued after Bucaro was transferred from St. Matthew's.

Ordained in 1980, Bucaro has served as the prison chaplain in Chino since 1983 where he conducts general religious services for the incarcerated, Lincoln said.

Rodrigo Valdivia, chancellor of the Diocese of San Diego, declined to comment Monday, saying officials there have not been notified or served with the filing. The San Diego Diocese's ordination records do not include a Father Michael Bucaro, Valdivia said by email.

The lawsuit also names Bucaro, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a religious order in Wisconsin that Bucaro once belonged to. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.


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