Priest and Diocese Named in Lawsuits

By Martin Espinoza
Press Democrat [Santa Rosa CA]
October 10, 2006

Seven alleged victims of child sexual abuse are suing fugitive priest Xavier Ochoa and the Santa Rosa Catholic Diocese for alleged abuse stretching back more than two decades.

The two lawsuits, delivered to Sonoma County Superior Court Tuesday on behalf of alleged victims now between the ages of 11 to 34, paint a picture of a sexual predator more extreme than has been previously reported.

The allegations include Ochoa oral copulating an 11-year-old victim in 2004 and touching the genitals of a 5-year-old victim around 1990.

Michael Meadows, one of the attorneys representing the alleged victims, said the Santa Rosa Diocese, through Bishop Daniel Walsh and prior bishops, was negligent in hiring and supervising Ochoa. The victims are also being represented by Santa Rosa attorney Michael Fiumara.

The suit alleges that church officials allowed Ochoa unsupervised access to victims, enabling his sexual misconduct.

"Ochoa meets all the characteristics of a lifetime child molester and we believe that he has a history that goes back to Mexico well before he came to Northern California," said Meadows. "This history would have been readily apparent with even the most minimal investigation."

Walsh could not be reached for comment through diocese spokeswoman Deirdre Frontczak.

Diocese attorney Dan Galvin said he had not yet seen the lawsuit but that it was "not unexpected."

"We'll deal with it in the proper channels," he said.


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