Encounter in '60s left woman perplexed

By Barney Brantinham
Santa Barbara News-Press
December 5, 1993

[See also the main article of this feature and links to the other articles. This article was scanned from a copy of the original newspaper in the Ray & Anne Higgins Archive. We thank them for their assistance. is solely responsible for this web posting.]

She was a 17-year-old Catholic high school girl, attending masses at St. Anthony's Seminary in the late 1960s.

"I was deeply religious and terribly naive," recalled the Santa Barbara woman, who asked not to be identified. "In fact, I was considering joining a religious order. "

She was shocked when a Franciscan brother grabbed and kissed her and exposed himself to her in the elevator of the boys' seminary school.

Not long before that, "he said he wanted to talk to me. We took my car and went to a nearby park." He kissed her, she said. "I found it strange that a brother, a member of the clergy, would be doing these things. I found it very out of place."

She and fellow students at Bishop Garcia Diego High School had enjoyed attending the folk masses and student chorus at St. Anthony's in Santa Barbara, she said.

After the elevator incident, she went to one of her high school teachers. "He strongly advised me to stay away from (the brother) and in fact avoid going to church there altogether. I took his advice. To this day I don't know if he contacted the seminary, but it wasn't long after that, perhaps six months to a year, that brother left St. Anthony's and left the Franciscan Order."

Monday, the Franciscans admitted that for 23 years, a fourth of the staff at St. Anthony's molested at least 34 boys before the school shut in 1987.

The woman said she wondered whether she was the only female victim. An investigative board of in quiry Monday did not report any sexual abuse of girls.

"I felt guilt that it was my fault that it happened and that I made it happen," the woman remembered. "I have repressed it until now. I never told anyone except my teacher until now. I wasn't reminded of it until the recent articles came out about the boys being molested."

Soon after the events a quarter century ago, she decided against becoming a nun. "I don't think it traumatized me but it made me realize that the church needs to address many of these issues," she said of the molestation. "The church should take a serious look at its policies toward the clergy being married. The celibacy issue needs to be addressed."


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