Three Decades of Accusations of Priestly Misconduct in Orange County -- and Their Consequences

Orange County Register
April 17, 2002

At least 11 Catholic priests have been accused of sexual misconduct in Orange County:

Huntington Beach: The Rev. Gary Pacheco, St. Simon and St. Jude Roman Catholic churches in the late 1970s, charged with molesting boys. Lawsuits settled. Pacheco left the priesthood.

Santa Ana: The Rev. Eleuterio Ramos, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, charged with molesting boys in the 1970s and 1980s. Lawsuits settled. Ramos reassigned to Mexico.

Huntington Beach: Father Andrew Christian Andersen, St. Bonaventure Church, convicted of molesting four altar boys in 1986. Went to prison, 1991.

Anaheim: The Rev. Robert Foley, St. Justin Martyr, accused of molesting boys in the 1980s. Suit settled. Left the country.

Costa Mesa: The Rev. Richard T. Coughlin, All-American Boys Chorus, accused of molesting boys in the 1970s and 1980s. Lawsuits settled. Removed from post in 1993.

Dana Point: The Rev. John Lenihan, St. Edward Church, accused of impregnating a teen-ager and paying for her abortion in the 1970s. Church authorities agree to pay $1.2 million to 37-year-old Lori Haigh. Lenihan removed from post, sent for treatment in Canada.

Rancho Santa Margarita: The Rev. Michael Pecharich, San Francisco Solano Church, accused of molesting altar boys and school students. Removed from post.

Rancho Santa Margarita and Santa Ana: Monsignor Michael Harris, Mater Dei and Santa Margarita Catholic high schools, charged with molesting children. The diocese settled, $5.2 million..

Mission Viejo: Father Tom Naughton, St. Kilian Church, removed from duties while church officials investigate claim he molested a child decades ago in Texas.

Seal Beach: Father Michael Wempe, priest at several Southern California churches, accused of molesting children. Transferred to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center as a chaplain; retired last month. Lives in Seal Beach.

Anaheim and Dana Point: Father Sigfried Widera, St. Justin Martyr Church in Anaheim and St. Edward Church in Dana Point, accused of sexually abusing boys. Fired, 1985.

Costa Mesa: Father Jerome Henson, St. John the Baptist Church, on paid leave while diocese investigates a 21-year-old allegation of sexual abuse with a boy in Northern California.


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