Santa Barbara Man Accuses Priest of Abuse in 1960s

Associated Press State & Local Wire
November 26, 2003

A 48-year-old man who said he was molested by a priest more than 30 years ago has filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Church for failing to prevent the alleged abuse from happening.

Andrew Ruiz said the late Rev. Matthew Kelly molested him more than 30 times over the course of two years, beginning when he was 12.

Ruiz, who filed a civil suit Tuesday in Santa Barbara Superior Court, said the abuse occurred at a cabin in the Santa Ynez mountains, where Kelly would take him under the pretense of doing yard work.

"I was just beginning junior high," Ruiz told the Santa Barbara News-Press. "He made me feel really comfortable and he was this cool kind of guy. He would let me drink up there and get me anything to drink that I wanted."

Tod Tamberg, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Archdiocese, which includes Santa Barbara County, said there have been no prior reports of misconduct by Kelly.

"If what Mr. Ruiz says is accurate, it's a terrible betrayal of trust, and we want to reach out pastorally to help him in his healing process," Tamberg said.

Ruiz said he never told anyone about the alleged sex acts. His lawsuit accused the church of negligence, fraud and deceit, sexual battery and the infliction of emotional distress.

The suit was filed under a California law that temporarily lifted the statute of limitations for civil suits involving childhood sex abuse.


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