3 Men Sue Catholic Brother, Accusing Him of Molestations
Law: Trio Say They Recently Recalled Memories of Abuse When They Were Children

By Jeffrey Miller and Pat Brennan
Orange County Register
April 23, 1993

Three men say long-repressed memories came alive during psychotherapy _ memories of molestation by a Catholic clergyman.

The three men allege in lawsuits that the memories of abuse at the hands of Brother Gregory Atherton plunged them into grief and depression that could take intensive therapy to cure.

Michael Moyneur of Mission Viejo, Michael Tietge of Los Angeles and Timothy Ender of Fallbrook allege that they were molested as teen-agers at St. Philip Benizi Church in Fullerton, where Atherton was music director from 1967 to 1988; at Servite High School in Anaheim; and on trips to San Francisco, Portland, Ore., and other cities.

Donald Steier, a Los Angeles attorney whom Atherton has consulted on the matter, declined to comment Thursday. "It's a delicate situation," he said.

An attorney representing the Catholic Order of Servites, which is named as a defendant in the suits, said church officials knew nothing about any alleged misconduct until 1990. That's when one of the three men told them Atherton had molested him.

"The church people had absolutely no idea about any of this," said Robert McMenamin, a lawyer representing the order in Portland.

"The Servite order is absolutely confounded by this whole thing. " The order responded to the allegations in 1990 by sending Atherton to New Mexico for a psychological evaluation that lasted more than five months, McMenamin said. Atherton then returned to his job in the business office of the Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother in Portland.

"He's under psychiatric care up here because of the allegations and things," McMenamin said Thursday. "Mentally, he's not in real good shape. " In one of the suits in Orange County Superior Court, Tietge alleges that Atherton molested him repeatedly from 1984 to 1986.

"Once the repressed memories became known to him again, his relationships with his family and friends were dramatically affected," said Tietge's attorney, Joseph L. Dunn, who also is representing the other two men.

Ender contends that he was molested repeatedly from 1973 to 1975, and that Atherton told him not to report the abuse. He said the brother provided him with spiritual and emotional counseling.

Moyneur said he took weekly organ and piano lessons from Atherton and the brother befriended his family.

The suits seek unspecified damages for emotional pain and therapy costs.


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