Monterey Diocese Agrees to Settle Abuse Case
Attorney: Plantiff to Get $1.2 Million

May 29, 2009

SALINAS, Calif. — The Monterey Catholic Diocese has agreed to a settlement worth more than a $1 million with a man who accused the church of mishandling his sex abuse case.

Jim Manly, an attorney for the plaintiff, confirmed with KSBW Action News 8 that the diocese agreed to a $1.2 million settlement.

The case was scheduled to have a hearing on Friday.

The plaintiff, who would not allow to have his name used for this story, claimed he was sexually molested while an altar boy during the early 1990s at the St. Mary of the Nativity Church in Salinas.

The settlement will also include a personal apology from the bishop to the victim and his family. Manly said the diocese will issue "an affirmative statement that there are no more molesters in the diocese."

The Monterey Catholic Diocese has yet to comment to Action News regarding the settlement.

A diocese official told my parents, 'He was not the first kid this happened to and it's not the last. He'll be fine and he'll forget about it,'" the victim said.

According to court records, the victim's mother was laughed at when she sought $10,000 from the diocese to get counseling for her son.

"Just seeing my mother's heart break to pieces when she tells me how the priest laughed at her. She was crying. She couldn't stop and they were telling her to calm down, that nothing was going to happen," the victim said.

The priests named in the victim's case were Fathers Juan Guillen and John Velez.

Guillen was later convicted of molesting boys in Arizona and is currently serving his prison sentence there.

Velez tried to commit suicide after the allegations surfaced and was never charged. According to court documents, the diocese released Velez to a religious order in Mexico City. Manly said Velez's whereabouts are unknown.

Manly said the Tuscon Diocese had already agreed to a $600,000 settlement with the victim prior to Friday's decision.

In a earlier interview, Monterey diocese spokesman Warren Hoy said he wouldn't talk about the specific lawsuit the victim has filed against the church, but did tell Action News 8 that major changes have been made on how to address and prevent child molestation at the church.

"We have learned from our mistakes. We have established zero tolerance," Hoy said.


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