Fliers Warn of Freed Abuser|
Action: a Man Who Says "Father Tony" Molested Him Tells Parishioners at a Loma Linda Church
By Sharon McNary
The Press-Enterprise [California]
January 30, 2006
Pat Olivas spent Sunday morning warning worshippers that a former priest convicted of child molestation was living nearby after his release last week from prison.
Olivas, 40, handed fliers to drivers leaving Mass at St. Joseph the Worker Church in Loma Linda.
The fliers depict Edward Anthony Rodrigue, whom Olivas accuses in a lawsuit of molesting him while a priest at St. George Catholic Church in Ontario in the late 1970s.
Meanwhile, inside St. Joseph the Worker Church, the Rev. Ignatius Rodrigues warned attendees at the 11 a.m. Mass to watch for the man they knew as "Father Tony."
"I told them what the diocese has told us: to warn the people that he's been released and to watch out for him. That he might have been here a long time ago during his ministry and he was accused of child abuse."
Rodrigue was assigned to the Loma Linda church in 1982, three years after he pleaded no contest to the sexual assault of a boy.
He left the priesthood in 1992 and was convicted again in 1998 of lewd acts with a minor.
Rodrigue, 69, was released Wednesday after serving 8½ years of a 10-year sentence, and had arranged to live in a San Bernardino motel, according to his brother, Tom Rodrigue.
Lawsuits by Olivas and others accuse the dioceses of San Bernardino and San Diego of shuttling Rodrigue from church to church, while knowing he was sexually abusing children.
The Rev. Howard Lincoln, spokesman for the Inland diocese that includes San Bernardino and Riverside county churches, has said the cases of sexual misconduct predate creation of the diocese in 1978.
The San Diego Diocese managed Inland parishes before that.
Attempts at settlements over three years ended in November when a judge ordered many of the cases to move forward to trial.
The fliers call for the San Bernardino and San Diego dioceses to use the church's extensive communications network to issue further warnings about Rodrigue.
The Rev. Rodrigues said the diocese was mounting an intensive campaign to inform priests, parents and children of the risk of child sexual abuse.
"I feel now that things have been taken care of," Rodrigues said.
Allison Gray, on her way into her first Catholic Mass in more than a year, said reports of abusive priests caused her to stay away from a faith she loved. Gripping a yellow flier, she said she hoped the pastor would mention Rodrigue.
"I don't know if I can sit in a service without all these thoughts going through my head, 'Are you one? Have you hurt a child?' " she said, describing herself as a survivor of child sexual abuse unrelated to the church.
Other parishioners said they knew enough from church and media reports to protect their children.
"We are well-informed about his background and I guess we got all the information we need," said Anthony Ababat.
Reach Sharon McNary at (951) 368-9458 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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