3rd Priest Quits Diocese Post after Sex Allegation

By Jenny Cardenas
Press Enterprise [Riverside, CA]
April 22, 1993

A Riverside County priest resigned earlier this year from his Rubidoux parish after an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor - the third such case in the Diocese of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties since September.

Rev. James Stauber, 58, described by members of his congregation as kind and giving, resigned his pastorship of St. John's Catholic Church in Rubidoux in February, said the Rev. Howard Lincoln, spokesman for the Diocese of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.

Stauber resigned, without admitting guilt, after Bishop Phillip F. Straling, the top diocese official, placed him on a leave of absence, Lincoln said. The leave of absence was the result of a complaint that 22 years ago, while Stauber was a priest out of state, he had sex relations with a minor, Lincoln said.

Stauber joined the diocese 12 years ago, Lincoln said.

The case is the third in the diocese since September in which a priest has been relieved of his duties after being accused of sexual misconduct.

The Rev. Rudi Gil, pastor at St. Frances of Rome Catholic Church in Lake Elsinore, left his post earlier this month after he was accused of engaging in sexual misconduct with a minor six years ago.

Like Stauber, Gil was placed on administrative leave pending an internal review, Lincoln said. A determination on whether Stauber or Gil will leave the priesthood will be made by Straling and the priests themselves, said Lincoln.

Last night, about 250 people came to St. Frances in Lake Elsinore; most asked that Gil be reinstated. What was planned as a 15-minute question-and-answer session turned into a 90-minutes-plus meeting as parishioners chastised the diocese for announcing the allegation before concluding an internal review into its validity.

Last September, the Rev. Edward Ball of Our Lady of Fatima Church in San Bernardino left the church after he was charged in court with four felony counts of committing lewd acts with a child.

Ball pleaded guilty and is now serving a state prison sentence, Lincoln said.

Ball was charged after the family of one of two victims contacted police. The diocese also was contacted by one of the families, Lincoln said.

In the two cases brought to light this week, the diocese did not contact law enforcement agencies because the alleged victims in both instances are now adults, Lincoln said.

The diocese has the responsibility to report suspected sex crimes against children, but it falls to adult alleged victims to contact authorities, he said.

State law requires anyone who works with or cares for children to report suspected abuse, or be charged with a misdemeanor.

Neither the Corona Police Department, nor the Riverside County Sheriff's Department nor the Riverside County District Attorney's Office has cases pending against Gil or Stauber.

The statute of limitations for sex crimes against children runs out six years after commission, said Rick Thierbach, upervising deputy district attorney in charge of sex crimes.

The exception is when the crime is discovered or recognized later, he said. In those cases, the statute of limitations begins to run when the crime is recognized or discovered, Thierbach said.

Very little information was available on the alleged victims.

Lincoln said he didn't know their names, where they lived or whether they had contacted police.

He said both Stauber and Gil were living somewhere in the diocese.

Stauber was assigned to St. John's 11/2 years ago, after leaving St. Catherine of Alexandria Catholic Church in Riverside. He also served at St. Edward's Catholic Church in Corona.

Gil served at St. Edward's from the fall of 1985 to May 1987, around the time of the alleged sexual misconduct. Lincoln said he did not know where the alleged crime took place.

Information was not available about the allegations against Stauber. Lincoln said he didn't know and Stauber would not comment.

Parishioners at St. John's were told of their priest's resignation during Masses in mid-February.

Stauber's resignation stunned parishioners, who said the former pastor worked well with the congregation and even told them that he was a "recovering alcoholic. "

"He would not have wine (at Mass), he would have grape juice," said Larry Gil, a former council member of St. John's parish and the brother of the Rev. Rudi Gil. "He let the council know first.

Then, over a couple of Sundays, he told the people he was a recovering alcoholic. "

Lincoln verified that Stauber "was a recovering alcoholic" for 13 years.

"He was leader in the diocese in helping people. Anybody who had the problem, he would want to go see them. He was very open," Lincoln said.

Larry Gil declined to talk about his brother's situation, but did talk about Stauber, whom he praised.

"He always gave. During Christmastime he gave each kid a dollar," Gil said. "He gave out $ 400 to $ 500 from his own pocket.

It was his own money. He didn't have a VCR or anything that other priests have. He had a broken-down car."

Gil said Stauber's sermons were bringing people back to the church.

"Every Mass was full. "

Rose Trost, who has worked with the church's altar boys for 39 years, said Stauber "was wonderful to work with and kind to everyone. "


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