Priest Lawsuit

By Vincent Cinisomo-Lara
City News Service
October 1, 2003

Los Angeles - Four ex-altar boys sued the Archdiocese of Los Angeles today for allegedly covering up their molestation from 1957-62 by a now- deceased Catholic priest who "rushed through Mass" to carry out the attacks.

The plaintiffs, now in their 50s, will seek unspecified monetary damages. They are identified as brothers Stephen and Dennis T., and Sal T. and Victor L.

The lawsuit was filed a few hours later than expected because of delays associated with a sheriff's deputies sickout at courthouses of the Los Angeles Superior Court, plaintiffs attorney Lon Isaacson said.

His clients allege that Father Celestine Quinlan sexually abused them and other altar boys while assigned to St. Francis of Assisi School and Parish in Los Angeles.

"He rushed through Mass so he could go back and molest them," Isaacson said, adding that the plaintiffs "suffered from this terrible scheme of trauma."

He said the men have "shattered lives," and have had heart attacks, strokes and multiple personal problems "all traceable to this violent sexual abuse by this priest."

Quinlan, who died in December 1970, is not named as a defendant. Priests don't have estates as a result of taking a vow of poverty when they enter the priesthood.

A representative of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said the church hasn't seen the lawsuit.

"This appears to be a new claim, so we will need to investigate it," Tod Tamberg said, declining to comment further.

The plaintiffs contend the Archdiocese tried to cover up the priest's alleged actions.

The plaintiffs say that when they reported the abuse to Sister Mary Noel, she told them "the fires of hell would lick (their) tongues if they ever spoke of the abuse."

The plaintiffs contend that Quinlan would abuse them while they were changing out of their altar boy robes, and "manipulated his victims into compromising situations on other church locations and repeatedly sexually abused, molested and humiliated his victims on numerous occasions."

"He displayed his sadistic obsessions by verbally belittling and taunting his victims," Isaacson said.

After Stephen T. and Dennis T.'s mother told church officials about Quinlan's alleged behavior, the priest was transferred to Willits, which was then under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Isaacson said.

But the church told the plaintiffs that Quinlan had been sent to an Indian Reservation in Arizona to pay penance for his sins, the lawyer said.


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