San Jose Man Sues Santa Rosa Diocese over Priest Abuse Claim

Associated Press State & Local Wire
July 18, 2007

A San Jose man who claims he was sexually abused at a Lake County summer camp during the 1970s has sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa and a priest previously accused in several similar Bay Area lawsuits.

The unidentified plaintiff, 46, said the Rev. Richard Presenti molested him in 1973 or 1974 at a Middletown camp run by the Salesian order.

Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Knoel Owen ruled last week that the lawsuit could go forward after a psychologist declared that the claim had merit.

Church records show that Presenti, 74, was never a priest under the supervision of the Santa Rosa diocese, said Deirdre Frontczak, a spokeswoman for Bishop Daniel Walsh.

"We couldn't find anybody in our diocese that had even heard of him," Frontczak said.

Presenti, a member of the Salesians, a Catholic religious order devoted to helping the young, now lives at the group's San Francisco headquarters in a "restricted community" where he is kept away from children, a spokesman for the order said.

Over the past decade, the Santa Rosa diocese has spent nearly $20 million settling a series of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by its priests.


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