Retired Priest Admits Abuse, Bishop Says; Brom Bars Clergyman from Ministry, Urges Victims to Speak up

By Susan Gembrowski and Sandi Dolbee
San Diego Union-Tribune
August 10, 2002

In the ongoing scandal of priests molesting children, San Diego Catholic Bishop Robert Brom has revealed that a retired priest admitted sexually abusing three men when they were minors.

Brom has barred that priest from ministry and has asked other victims to come forward.

The diocese turned over the name of Monsignor Rudolph Galindo to San Diego District Attorney Paul Pfingst this week.

"We're investigating to see if it's a prosecutable case," Pfingst said, adding that it will be a priority because there are accusations by more than one victim.

In a letter released yesterday and to be shared with parishioners this weekend, Brom said the three men contacted the diocese with allegations of childhood sexual misconduct by Galindo, a priest who retired in 1986.

When Brom met in his office with Galindo late last month, the 73-year-old priest admitted that the accusations were true and took "full responsibility for his conduct," the bishop wrote in his pastoral letter.

Under the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People adopted by U.S. bishops in June, any priest or deacon who sexually abuses a minor — past or present — is to be permanently barred from ministry.

"I have prohibited Monsignor Galindo from presenting himself as a priest or from functioning as a priest in any way whatsoever, and he accepted that these are the consequences of his misconduct," Brom said in an interview.

While this is the first time he has taken such action since the charter was adopted, Brom said zero tolerance was in place in the diocese before the bishops met.

After the meeting with Galindo, Brom said he sent the retired priest to an undisclosed treatment center for a psychological evaluation.

"I need to be sure that children and young people will not be at risk, even though from this point he won't be presenting himself or functioning as a priest," the bishop said.

Brom's letter urges other possible victims of Galindo to contact the diocese and lists the phone number and address for the Rev. Steven Callahan, chancellor of the diocese.

"From my investigation, I am concerned that there are others who may have been harmed by sexual misconduct on the part of Monsignor Galindo during his various assignments as a priest," Brom wrote.

When asked why he issued this unusual appeal, Brom cited the newly adopted charter, which calls for dioceses to reach out to victims.

"I think it's the right thing to do," he said.

Mark Brooks, head of the local chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a national victim's rights group, said he has "a lot of misgivings" about the bishop's request. SNAP suggests victims contact law enforcement.

This is not the first time that Galindo has been accused of sexual misconduct. In 1985, he paid $75,000 to a then-19-year-old man who accused him of molesting him when he was an altar boy at St. Joseph Cathedral. Galindo denied that allegation.

Brom would give no details about the new victims or incidents, saying the men were "very insistent on confidentiality." He did confirm that the diocese has paid no settlements.

"To guard the victims' identity, we're not going to give so much information that you'd only have to fill in the blanks," Brom said.

Since being ordained in 1954, Galindo served at six churches in San Bernardino, San Diego and Imperial counties. Brom said that the incidents occurred at a church in this diocese, which covers San Diego and Imperial counties.

Galindo had been living in a retirement home for priests in San Antonio, Texas, but apparently has not been active in ministry because of poor health. A spokesman at the Archdiocese of San Antonio said there is no indication that he served as a priest there.

Brom described Galindo as "very remorseful and very understanding of the seriousness of what has happened." He also said Galindo "freed me to say ... that he has admitted to the allegations brought against him. He is not in a posture to defend himself against these allegations."

Galindo served his first four years at St. Edward Roman Catholic Church in Corona. He spent the next decade at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Chula Vista.

In 1968, he transferred to Our Lady of Guadalupe in San Bernardino. Six years later, he went to Our Lady of Mount Carmel in San Ysidro, and in 1976, he was made pastor of St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown San Diego.

After the lawsuit was filed by the former altar boy, Galindo was sent in 1983 to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Calexico, where he stayed for three years until retiring because of declining health.

At Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Chula Vista, one longtime parishioner said she doesn't believe that Galindo did these things.

"I have to hear it from the horse's mouth before I believe it — straight from the horse's mouth," said the parishioner, who did not want to be named.

Galindo built a new church and parish hall during his 10 years there, she said, and the parishioner described him as an energetic, good priest. "All the parishioners were crying when he left."

The monsignor is a former altar boy himself, having served at St. John of the Cross Church in Lemon Grove. In 1985, when he was at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Calexico, he helped conduct the memorial service for slain U.S. drug agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena Salazar.

It's been a summer of turmoil for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego as it grapples with the scandal of clergy sexual abuse that has rocked Catholic churches around the country.

The names of 23 priests, accused of misconduct in cases that go back decades, were given to authorities in June. Some of the men are dead and several others have left the priesthood.

Since then, the diocese has given prosecutors names of three more priests from past files. Brom repeatedly has said that, to his knowledge, no priest who ever molested a child is in active ministry here.

Last month, the diocese acknowledged that a $250,000 settlement was paid in December to a man who said he was molested when he was a minor by the late Monsignor William Kraft.

Brom emphasizes that these cases represent a small fraction of the priesthood.

"Most of our priests are loving and selfless servants of whom we can all be proud," he wrote in yesterday's letter.

Library researcher Merrie Monteagudo contributed to this report.


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