Don Flickinger, Noe Valley Priest, Accused of Sexually Abusing Minors

By Aaron Sankin
Huffington Post
August 12, 2011

A lawsuit filed by a 23-year old San Jose man has accused Father Don Flickinger of four decades of sexual abuse against minors as well as a number of Bay Area Catholic churches of moving the priest from one diocese to another in a concerted effort to hide his behavior from the public.

San Jose resident Matthew Frazer claims he was abused by Flickinger as a young teenager. The suit also names the Diocese of Fresno, the Archdoicese of San Francisco and the Diocese of San Jose as abettors to Flickinger's crimes.

A press release put out by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) recounts:

The victim in this case, now 23, says that Fr. Flickinger sexually abused him in Flickinger's room when the boy was 13. The boy went to the police to report the abuse. When contacted by the victim via a "police sting call," the cleric was completely aware of the investigation and did not incriminate himself. The priest was then transferred from the San Jose Diocese to St. Paul's Catholic Church in San Francisco, where parishioners have no idea about the priest's potential threat to kids.

The suit alleges that Flickinger began his pattern of abuse in the mid-1960s, soon after he was ordained at the Diocese of Fresno. The suit names over nearly two-dozen witnesses who claim to have witnessed or experienced first-hand Fickinger behaving inappropriately towards young boys.

"Each of the diocese had plenty of warning about Father Flickinger's behavior and they chose to ignore it," said Frazer's attorney, Tim Hale, told The Huffington Post. "There are 14 high school students from San Jose who are willing to step up and talk about Flickinger's abuse. To think that all these students know what was going on but all the adults at the school had no idea simply isn't credible."

Bay City News reports:

Around 2005, the lawsuit claims, members of the San Jose diocese seemed to limit Flickinger's ministry—for example, the lawsuit said the priest was sent to a retreat in Northern California where he was allegedly only allowed to perform mass for the nuns in residence.

A witness in the lawsuit claims that Flickinger admitted that he had been suspected of sexual abuse and that the San Jose parish asked him to leave.

"He was reported to the police in Santa Clara and they moved him up here a couple of years ago. He should not be in a parish with an elementary school," Tim Lennon of SNAP told KGO 810 at a protest held earlier this week in front of the St. Paul Catholic Parish and School in Noe Valley, where Flickinger is currently employed. "The numerous of cases of clergy abuse need to be brought to light and…[the church] needs to renounce its past history of cover ups."

"Time and again [the] defendants have had the opportunity to end the cycle of abuse by reporting perpetrators such as Flickinger to law enforcement," the complaint reads. "Tragically, the defendants' ongoing efforts to protect their pedophilic members, and to protect their financial interests, establish a continuing pattern of conduct causing new harm to today's children, new trauma to adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and contributing to the financial burden of a society paying for the resulting psychological fallout."

Officials at St. Paul's in San Francisco and the Diocese of San Jose declined to comment on the pending litigation.


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