Woman Alleges Priest, Caretaker Molested Her

Associated Press, carried in Los Angeles Times
March 20, 1992

A 29-year-old San Diego woman who alleges she was sexually molested as a teen-ager at a Catholic church in Escondido is suing a retired priest, a former caretaker and the local diocese.

The woman's lawsuit contends that Father Victor Ubaldi, 79, and Al Villalobos, a gardener and janitor, molested her hundreds of times at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church over a five-year period, from 1974 until 1979.

Ubaldi, who has since moved to Italy, denied the allegations through his attorney Wednesday. The plaintiff's attorney said she hasn't been able to locate Villalobos. The woman, who requested that her name be withheld, said she had repressed memories about being molested until about a year ago. A 1990 state law allows victims of childhood abuse who suppressed those memories to file lawsuits within three years after the attacks are recalled.

The lawsuit, filed Feb. 13, alleges that Ubaldi and Villalobos separately engaged in sexual intercourse, oral sex and sexual foreplay with the then 12- to 17-year-old on about 100 occasions.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, but the woman said she is suing to recoup the cost of psychological counseling since May and "to let the church know it's not all right."

Ubaldi's attorney, William Whelan, said the priest has difficulty even remembering the woman and will fight to clear his name.

"He knows that, whoever the person is, that he did not engage in the activity that he's accused of," Whelan said.

A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, Father Charles Fuld, said Ubaldi first started working in the diocese in 1963 and served at St. Mary's from 1975 until retiring in 1982 because of poor health.

"We have no record at all, no indication at all, that he served in anything but an exemplary fashion," Fuld said.

The lawsuit faults the diocese for failing to take action to protect children from Ubaldi and Villalobos, saying officials should have known that other girls also were molested by the two.

Barry Crane, an attorney for the diocese, said the diocese has begun its own investigation and hasn't "found anything to indicate any liability."

After the allegations were aired in a television news broadcast, another woman, Ruth M. Scott, came forward to say that she, too, had been sexually assaulted by Ubaldi.

Scott says that Ubaldi fondled her at the age of 12 or 13 when he came to her house to give Communion to her sick grandmother.

Scott said she doesn't plan to file a lawsuit.


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