S.D. Diocese Hit by 11 New Abuse Suits

By Greg Moran
San Diego Union-Tribune
December 24, 2003

The Roman Catholic diocese of San Diego was hit with 11 more lawsuits alleging children were sexually abused by 13 priests and a lay worker at a handful of church institutions from the 1940s to 1980.

The suits come about a week before the deadline expires for filing claims against the church, regardless of how long ago the abuse allegedly occurred.

The suits were filed by the law firm of Kiesel Boucher & Larson in Beverly Hills, which is filing numerous suits across the state against Roman Catholic dioceses. A dozen more suits against the San Diego diocese are expected to be filed next week.

Several of the priests named are deceased, and others have been named in previous lawsuits. At least one has left the priesthood. The suits allege that the abuse happened at church facilities in San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial counties.

The San Diego diocese included San Bernardino and Riverside counties until the late 1970s.

One priest, the Rev. Barry Vinyard, flatly denies the allegations, according to a spokesman for the diocese. In a statement, Chancellor Roderigo Valdivia said that Vinyard, through his attorney, "would deny emphatically any accusation of abuse and that he would litigate them at all costs."

Though not currently assigned to a parish, Vinyard is the first actively serving priest in the diocese who has been named in an abuse suit.

Vinyard, ordained in 1975, works as a chaplain in El Centro, according to the diocesan Web site. Messages left last night for him and his attorney brought no response.

The man suing Vinyard is identified only as John Doe. Plaintiffs are allowed to remain anonymous in court records if they request it. The suit says Vinyard molested him in 1978 and 1979 at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Calexico.

As the lawsuits against the diocese continue to stack up, Valdivia said Bishop Robert H. Brom "remains open to exploring a pastoral resolution of any claim whether or not litigation is pending." The diocese has long preferred settling claims before they end up in court.

Among the suits filed yesterday were:

• Two from two men who say they were abused at Boys Town of the Desert, which was near Banning.

One man says he was abused by two brothers of the Religious Brothers of Charity, which ran the facility, in 1963. The second man said he was abused, by a different brother, between 1966 and 1968. The brothers are identified only by first names in the suit.

The facility, later known as American Boys Ranch, was closed by the diocese and sold in 1977.

• Two women who say they were molested between 1958 and 1967 at St. Rose of Lima in Chula Vista. One woman said the Rev. Patrick O'Keefe and a parish worker, identified as Patrick O'Shea, abused her. The second woman alleges that only O'Shea abused her.

Neither man could be located last night. Valdivia said O'Keefe is retired from the Diocese of San Bernardino. He said O'Shea worked as a custodian at the church.

• A man who alleges Monsignor Rudolph Galindo molested him at St. Edward's parish in Corona in 1954 and 1955. Galindo is retired; the diocese has said it does not know his whereabouts. In 2002, Brom said in a letter to church members that Galindo had admitted molesting three children.

• A woman who says the Rev. Lawrence Kurlandski molested her at St. Joseph's Church in Fontana from 1947 to 1949. Kurlandski could not be located last night.

• A man who alleges now deceased Rev. Thomas Moloney molested him at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Riverside in 1963. Moloney died in 1986, according to the diocese.

• A woman who says the Rev. Albert Kowalczyk, now dead, abused her at Resurrection Academy in Fontana in 1963.

• A woman who alleges the Rev. James T. Booth molested her at Mission San Diego de Alcala between 1965 and 1967. Booth married and became an Episcopal priest and retired to the Central Valley. He could not be reached last night. He was named in a class action suit filed earlier this year by another woman also alleging abuse.

• A Los Angeles man who says the Rev. Franklyn Becker molested him at St. Brigid's in Pacific Beach in 1977 and 1978. Becker lives in Wisconsin and has declined to comment.


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