Woman Testifies Priest Raped Her Decades Ago

By Jim Doyle
San Francisco Chronicle
November 9, 2000

A Santa Rosa woman testified yesterday that a Roman Catholic priest raped her on a chapel floor next to the altar when she was 14 years old.

The assault happened in 1977 but she didn't report it to police for two decades, she testified during a preliminary hearing of the evidence against her alleged attacker, Donald Kimball.

"No one was going to believe me," she said. As a teen, "I tried to tell two people (a church official and a friend) and they didn't believe me."

Sonoma County Judge Patricia Gray will determine whether Kimball, an inactive Catholic priest and former youth minister, will stand trial on criminal charges involving sexual assaults against two minors in the 1970s and '80s.

Kimball, 57, is charged with one felony count of rape involving the 14-year-old and two counts of sexual molestation of a girl who was 11 and 12 years old in 1982 when the alleged acts took place.

Kimball has pleaded not guilty and denied any misconduct. If convicted, he could serve up to 15 years in prison.

Several other women who claim to have been victimized by Kimball have offered to testify against him.

In April, the Roman Catholic Church reached a $1.6 million settlement in a civil lawsuit that was filed by four plaintiffs who contend that Kimball molested them in the 1970s and '80s. As part of that agreement, the Santa Rosa diocese issued a formal apology to each of the plaintiffs.

In halting testimony yesterday, the Santa Rosa woman, now 37, said that she went to Kimball for counseling during the summer between seventh and eighth grades due to problems at home. Kimball placed her head on his lap and began to rub her stomach and then her breasts, she testified.

She also spoke of how Kimball, inebriated with wine, had sexual intercourse with her after a Saturday night Mass in the chapel at Resurrection Church in Santa Rosa.

"I told him I wasn't ready for this. I don't want this. . . . I said it a number of times," she testified.

The alleged victim, whose full name was withheld for reasons of privacy, said that during intercourse she remembered looking up at the crucifix on the altar and asking, "Why don't you stop this?"

The woman testified that after the incident, Kimball told her: "You're a woman, now."

During yesterday's hearing, Deputy District Attorney Gary Medvigy sought to portray Kimball as a sexual predator who had admitted his wrongdoing on various occasions.

Former Bishop John Steinbock testified that a few months after he came to the Santa Rosa diocese in 1987, he was alerted to Kimball's alleged misconduct by a parishioner.

Kimball admitted then that he had improperly touched two minors five years earlier, but he insisted that he had been treated by a psychologist and was no longer a danger to children.

The matter surfaced again three years later, when a Eureka psychologist contacted the bishop, saying that he was treating a woman patient who claimed to have been abused by Kimball years earlier.

During a meeting in April 1990, the bishop said, Kimball admitted that he had engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct with six young women, two of whom were teens under his supervision.

"He expressed sorrow for what he did," Steinbock said. "He said he was having a difficult time in his life as a priest and a difficult time with his sexual identity."

In a May 1990 meeting, the bishop testified, Kimball said that all six of the victims were minors. He offered to leave the priesthood to help the church avoid liability for his actions.

"His story kept changing," said the bishop, who ordered Kimball to cease all contact with children.

Cross-examined by Kimball's attorney, Chris Andrian, the bishop admitted that he did not question the priest about the details of the sexual contacts or the ages of the victims.

The preliminary hearing continues today.


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