Brothers Target Diocese in Suit
Men Say Priest Sexually Abused Them Years Ago

By Joe Nelson
San Bernardino Sun (San Bernardino, CA)
June 2, 2003

RANCHO CUCAMONGA - A lawsuit filed Monday claims the Diocese of San Diego failed to protect two brothers who say they were sexually assaulted by a priest in a church rectory in Ontario 25 years ago.

The allegations were made by two former altar boys at St. GeorgeCatholic Church in Ontario. The brothers, now 34 and 38 and living in Ontario, say they were molested by former priest Edward Anthony Rodrigue, 66, between 1971 and 1982. Rodrigue has since been defrocked by the church.

The two attended the St. George School, the parochial schoolattached to the church, where Rodrigue was allowed to attend physical education classes and engage in physical conduct with students, including wrestling, according to the 33-page lawsuit filed in West Valley Superior Court in Rancho Cucamonga.

Among the allegations cited in the lawsuit include intentionalinfliction of emotional distress, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and civil conspiracy.

Santa Barbara attorney Timothy C. Hale, who represents thebrothers, didn't specifically name the defendants.

A 2002 state law that prevents defendants in such lawsuits frombeing named until a judge orders a trial, an effort to avoid damaging and frivolous lawsuits.

The law, passed in July 2002, gives alleged victims of abuse oneyear to sue institutions they believe were responsible for protecting them.

Hale in part blames those responsible for overseeing Rodrigue'sbehavior during his tenure at St. George.

"There's evidence out there that there were discussions betweenranking members of the entities involved of ... [Rodrigue's] pedophilic propensities before he ever got to St. George,' Hale said. "Why on Earth they would assign this man to both a church and a school where there were children is beyond me.'

San Diego diocesan officials allowed Rodrigue to sexually assaultthe two brothers and never warned them, their parents or other children and their parents of Rodrigue's pedophilic propensities, the lawsuit charges.

Officials with the San Diego Diocese couldn't be reached forcomment Monday. San Bernardino and Riverside counties were part of the San Diego Diocese until 1978.

Rodrigue lived in the rectory at St. George Church starting about1976, Hale said.

"The rectory was located on the same grounds as the school,which supplied Rodrigue with a constant supply of children to groom and assault,' the lawsuit states.

Rodrigue was arrested in 1979 and pleaded no contest in thesexual assault of an Ontario boy. He was put on probation and in 1980 was sent to Cavena Treatment Facility in Azusa for psychiatric treatment, according to the lawsuit.

Rodrigue was laicized the technical term for being removed fromthe priesthood in 1992 after allegations of sexual abuse arose at the Diocese of San Bernardino.

In 1997, Rodrigue was arrested in the sexual assault of an11-year-old developmentally disabled boy at the Highland apartment complex where Rodrigue worked as a janitor.

He pleaded guilty in 1998 to two counts of lewd and lasciviousacts with a minor and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He is serving his sentence at the California State Prison in Mule Creek, the lawsuit says.

"He admitted to assaulting at least four to five boys a year forthe 22 years he was a priest.' Hale said. "He definitely had a history and a propensity. This guy is a true pedophile.'

A substantial number of the molestations occurred in Rodrigue'sroom at the church rectory, according to the complaint.

Between 1977 and 1978, Hale said, the younger brother wasrepeatedly molested by Rodrigue from the time he was 7 years old to the time he was 8.

The older brother was molested once at home, when he was 12 yearsold, according to the complaint.

Priests and diocesan officials, the lawsuit claims, repeatedlysaw Rodrigue take the two brothers and other boys to and from his room in the rectory at St. George.

"Thus, for at least one year the agents repeatedly saw childrenas young as seven years old ... accompany Rodrigue around the rectory and into and out of Rodrigue's bedroom,' the lawsuit says.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.