Church Knew of Case against Priest
Diocese of Orange says it was told case against former Huntington cleric was unproved despite settlement

By Carol McGraw
Orange County Register
May 18, 2002

The Catholic Diocese of Orange allowed a priest to stay at his Huntington Beach parish for at least two years after learning that he had been accused of sexual molestation and that his accuser was paid a monetary settlement.

Ignacio Aceves, 38, of Oakland received the settlement from St. Anthony's Seminary in Santa Barbara in 1995 after alleging that Father Gus Krumm molested him at the school during the 1980-81 school year.

''It happened behind closed doors in a room across the hall from the dorm. It was where the moderator would sleep,'' Aceves, an unemployed security guard, said in an interview. ''He was supposed to keep an eye on us, take care of us, like parents, while we were away from home.''

Orange Diocese officials said the friars informed the diocese of the allegations in a letter in 1995 and of the settlement in 1996.

The accuser also notified the diocese in 1996, the diocese officials said.

The diocese did not remove Krumm from Sts. Simon and Jude Catholic Church because ''the Franciscan Order he belonged to informed them that the allegations were without substance and the settlement was for a minimal amount,'' said Maria Schinderle, diocese spokeswoman. ''There are often allegations that aren't true, and there are sometimes settlements made for allegations that aren't true.''

She said no complaints against Krumm were received from among the 6,000-family parish or elsewhere in the 10 years he was with the diocese.

Retired Bishop Norman McFarland was head of the diocese at the time. The present bishop, Tod D. Brown, arrived in July 1998, weeks before Krumm changed posts.

Krumm had been an associate pastor at Sts. Simon and Jude from July 1988 to September 1998 before he left to become head pastor of the 640-family Ascension Catholic Church in Portland, Ore. He declined to talk about the allegations.

''Our provincial has asked that we not say anything regarding any of this,'' he said.

Aceves was one of more than 30 students who accused 11 friars -- a quarter of the St. Anthony's staff -- of molestation over a 23-year period. The school closed in 1987 for financial reasons.

The students' accounts, which included allegations of fondling, oral copulation and sodomy, came to light in about 1993, when one student, now an adult, told his family. Others then came forward. When parents felt they weren't getting answers from the Franciscans who ran the seminary, they insisted on formation of an Independent Board of Inquiry, to which the friars agreed.

Two priests were prosecuted -- one was sent to prison, and another was jailed and later committed suicide. Three were reassigned to retreat houses, where they weren't to have contact with children, and another is working in jail ministry.

The statute of limitations precluded filing charges against the others, said Ray Higgins, a retired Santa Barbara businessman who was a member of the six-person Board of Inquiry, which met for 11 months. The panel included parents, a Franciscan priest, two therapists and an attorney. Higgins' son was one of those who reported being molested.

Aceves would not reveal the size of his settlement except to say it was ''substantial.'' He also said he received a year of therapy paid by the Franciscans. He waived his right to a lawsuit by agreeing to the settlement with the Franciscan Friars of California, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Krumm.

Higgins said the average settlement for students was about $100,000, and his son received $90,000. Students also were provided with therapy.

Higgins recalled the testimony of Aceves before the Board of Inquiry and at a later meeting of the St. Anthony's Seminary Support Group for Survivors of Sexual Abuse.

''There wasn't a dry eye there. Everyone believed him,'' Higgins said.

Finian McGinn, provincial of the Franciscan Province of St. Barbara, said Aceves' case was investigated when Aceves told school officials and again when the Board of Inquiry investigated St. Anthony's.

''The settlement did not admit guilt,'' he said. ''We believe that all the appropriate steps have been taken in this situation. It continues to be our commitment to ensure that no one will be certified for ministry who has a substantial allegation against him.''

He added, ''We want to ensure the well-being of the people, especially minors, and we continue to support Father Krumm in his pastoral ministry.''

Bud Bunce, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Portland, where Krumm is now working, said, ''We would not have anyone with credible accusations against them serve in public ministry.''

Bunce said he wasn't sure that the diocese knew about the allegations or settlement, but ''settlement agreements often blanket everybody for expediency, and good priests are stained with the bad ones.''

Aceves was a high school sophomore at the time of the alleged abuse, the second-youngest of 11 children of Mexican immigrant parents. His mother, a widow, used her husband's death benefits to send him to the school. Two older brothers had graduated from the seminary, and Aceves went there because he wanted to become a priest. But his first year became his last, and he has stopped going to church.

''I get panic attacks in church, so I don't go,'' he said.

He alleges that Krumm touched him inappropriately during the school year on several occasions. He said he told school authorities, but they ''never got back to me about it.''

He said he has suffered ongoing mental-health problems, including depression, fear, anger and lack of self-esteem, and has been in therapy.

Now unemployed, he says he barters and does odd jobs.

He has a girlfriend of six years.

''But sometimes I feel anger instead of affection when she tries to touch me,'' he said. ''A therapist told me it's because you confuse bad and good touch.''

Register staff writer Bill Rams and news researcher Eugene Balk contributed to this report.

Contact McGraw at (714) 796-4945 or


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