Lawsuit Filed against the Diocese of Oakland

By Angela Hill
Contra Costa Times
November 9, 2010

A lawsuit was filed Tuesday against the Diocese of Oakland, charging negligence and a cover-up of a sexual-abuse case of a young girl in the early 1980s.

Sacramento-based attorney Joseph George said he filed the case in Alameda County Superior Court on behalf of a woman, now in her 40s, who said she was molested by Monsignor Vincent Breen while working in the rectory of Holy Spirit Church in Fremont during 1980-81.

Breen, who died in 1986, remained at Holy Spirit until he was forced into retirement in 1982 after a police investigation found that he had molested at least seven other girls ages 7 to 14, according to published reports.

To announce this latest suit, Melanie Sakoda, director of the support group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and two group members held a news conference Tuesday on the sidewalk in front of the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland.

"We're here to call attention to the lawsuit so other abuse victims might come forward," Sakoda said. "There must be others who saw something or heard something at the time of this abuse and may have been victims themselves. Only 10 percent of people sexually abused actually end up telling somebody about it. So we're also here to remind people who haven't come forward that they're not alone."

Diocese spokesman Mike Brown said he couldn't comment on the specifics of the lawsuit as the diocese hadn't been officially served with papers, but provided a prepared list of actions the diocese has taken to eliminate abuse and to assist victims of past incidents.

"Over the past few months, various attorneys and clients have been holding media events on the steps of the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, often to announce plans to file lawsuits, sometimes alleging clergy sexual abuse, cover-ups, complicity and the like," the prepared statement reads. "After the spectacle of the media event, important facts need to be restated. The Diocese of Oakland, since Bishop John Cummins, has been in the forefront of recognizing the evils of clergy sexual abuse and of ministering to its victims. In the Diocese of Oakland there are no known cases of sexual abuse by clergy to have taken place during the past 20 years."


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.