Sisters Sue Ex-Priest in Sex Case

By Catherine Bowman
San Francisco Chronicle
February 26, 1993

Two sisters have filed a lawsuit accusing a former San Lorenzo priest of sexually abusing them in the late 1970s when they were 2 and 10 years old.

The civil suit, filed Wednesday in Alameda County Superior Court, contends that the Diocese of Oakland did not discipline the Rev. Tarcisio Lanuevo after he was accused of molesting the girls in 1978 and 1979 while he was associate pastor at St. John's Catholic Church in San Lorenzo.

The women, now 16 and 23 and living in southern Alameda County, sued using the pseudonyms Jackie and Jennifer Doe to protect their privacy. The alleged acts occurred on an "ongoing basis" when Jackie Doe was 2 and her sister was 10.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for sexual abuse, emotional distress and professional negligence.

Lanuevo cannot be charged with a crime because the statute of limitations has expired, attorneys said.

According to the lawsuit, the parents filed a police report about the abuse Dec. 13, 1979. Lanuevo's superior allegedly indicated that if the parents dropped the criminal charges, Lanuevo would receive counseling and have no contact with children.

"The family was basically pressured by the church (to drop the charges)," said Hannah Schwarzschild, one of two attorneys representing the sisters.

Schwarzschild believes that Lanuevo was never disciplined appropriately and continued to have contact with children after he left St. John's.

Church officials said yesterday that Lanuevo left St. John's in 1980 and is no longer connected with the parish.

The Rev. Raymond Breton, chancellor of the diocese, said the priest was suspended from his duties as soon as officials learned of the charges but would not say when that occurred.

Lanuevo is on administrative leave and is undergoing psychiatric treatment at an out-of-state facility, he said.

Breton said he believes that church officials offered counseling services to the family, although the lawsuit contends they did not.

"The bishop and the diocesan administration deeply deplore this tragic happening alleged to have taken place in the lives of these two women and their families," he said.

Church officials said they are investigating the allegations.


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