Monsignor Murrough Wallace Facing Accusations of Sexual Abuse
By Paula Peterson
South Tahoe Now
December 27, 2018
Monsignor Murrough Wallace, who served the South Lake Tahoe community at the St. Theresa Parish from 1993 to 2003, has been accused by a man who said Wallace and another priest sexually abused him in 1985 when he was 17.
The accuser, known as John Doe in court documents, said he was volunteering at Camp Pendola when the alleged abuse took place.
Due to the allegations, Wallace, who is now 82 and retired, had to withdraw from ministry until more facts could be gathered, according to Bishop Soto of the Sacramento Diocese.
Mr. Doe has also accused the late Monsignor Vito Mistretta of sexually assaulting him while rehearsing for prayer at Holy Family two months after the initial allegation at the camp. Mistretta died in 2009.
The Diocese has asked Mr. Doe and his attorney for additional information so that they can investigate the situation.
Father Michael Vaughan, vicar general at the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, released this statement:
“Our diocese is conducting a comprehensive audit of all previous cases involving accusations of child sexual abuse by priests. We are working with independent consultant Kathleen McChesney, a former deputy assistant director of the FBI, and we expect her review to be completed and the list released in March.
“We recognize that in past decades, horrific abuse of children and young people occurred in our diocese. In some cases, our response to this evil and our care for victims were not what they should have been. We are committed to confronting this past and atoning for it, and we are committed to protecting children and the vulnerable from abuse.
“Today, we adhere to a zero-tolerance policy regarding cases of child sexual abuse and immediately report any incidents involving children to law enforcement. Any priest credibly accused of abusing a minor is immediately removed from ministry while the accusation is investigated.
“The information presented at a press conference today had not previously been shared with our diocese. We have reached out to Mr. Doe through his attorney in hopes of learning any information that would allow us to investigate and take appropriate action. We also have offered to provide whatever assistance Mr. Doe may find helpful.
“In light of the allegation raised today by Mr. Doe, Bishop Soto has directed Msgr. Murrough Wallace, retired pastor of St. Theresa Parish in South Lake Tahoe, to withdraw from ministry until more facts can be gathered.
“We are prepared to re-open or re-evaluate all cases when new information comes to light. We would do this using today’s standards, not the ones in place when the abuse occurred. And, we would do this guided by our belief that the safety of the young and vulnerable is our undisputed priority, and that no instance of sexual abuse can be tolerated.”
There have been no cases of alleged sexual abuse by Msgr. Wallace brought to the attention of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department.
Mr. Doe said the memories of abuse came to him in 2011 and he just spoke up now because the Sacramento Diocese announced in October they would postpone releasing the names of priests involved in sexual abuse. The names will be released in March after an independent investigation is completed.