A former California priest was removed from the church by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 2004 because of his “emotional instability”. The following year, a lawsuit alleged that he sexually abused at least two children in the parish prior to his removal. Additionally, the complaints alleged that the church engaged in covering up the abuse for years.
A second lawsuit was filed in May of this year alleging sexual abuse by the same priest in the early 2000’s. According to the suit, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles had received numerous complaints, and parish staff was suspicious that the priest might be abusing minors. According to the suit, rather than investigate the complaints, the organization transferred and promoted him, and destroyed records of the complaints.
All told, five victims who were allegedly abused between the ages of 10 and 15 are prepared to testify against the abuser and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles if the case goes to trial in December. The priest has not been reached for comment, but his attorney has denied all allegations.
Where is this priest now?
According to an online report, after being removed from active ministry within the archdiocese, he went back to school and became a licensed psychologist. He practiced briefly in Pennsylvania before moving to Rhode Island, where he is a clinical psychologist specializing in youth counseling.
Has he changed?
That is hard to say since “there is no national database that tracks disciplinary actions taken against psychologists,” according to a spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Health. “For that reason, we do not get any system notification when a disciplinary action or legal action has been taken against a Rhode Island-licensed psychologist in another state,” he said. He went on to say that when a complaint is filed, the Department of Health (DOH) will investigate if the claim is “deemed warranted,” then take appropriate action, as necessary. However, he did not state whether the former priest is under investigation.
Sexual abuse by doctors against patients is surprisingly widespread, yet like the church, the medical community has engaged in cover-ups and has allowed many abusers to continue to treat patients. Hospitals don’t report allegations, and the charges are often dismissed or reduced so doctors can stay off sex-offender registries. Only 11 states require medical authorities to notify law enforcement when a doctor has sexually violated an adult patient. Therefore, no one really knows how many cases of sexual misconduct in the health care arena really exist.
Sexual abuse and misconduct doesn’t even stop there. Now, we here about prominent businessmen, politicians, entertainers, athletes, and teachers accused or convicted of a sex crime. Like priests and doctors, many have continued their careers despite the allegations against them.
The most challenging cases of my legal career were those I filed against the church for sexual misconduct and clergy abuse. No one could believe, back then, that a priest could engage in such vile conduct with a young parishioner. And these cases were pursued without the press notoriety of today.
The #MeToo trend encourages victims of sexual assault and violence to post ‘#MeToo’ on social media to raise awareness of how common and widespread this problem is. Some believe there is a flaw with this movement; they feel it draws attention to the victim rather than the abuser. However, we need to continue raising awareness of this abhorrent behavior. These predators cannot continue to use their positions of power and authority to control, manipulate, and abuse. Their superiors cannot continue to engage in cover-ups and allow the abuse to continue.
We must use our voices and resources to bring awareness of sexual abuse and change this culture of violence. Readers may want to consider supporting programs such as SNAP and The Hope of Survivors.
One way I am raising awareness is through my award-winning first novel, Betrayal of Faith.
Betrayal of Faith follows the story of Jennifer Tracey as she sets out to expose the predatory behavior of the new parish priest and obtain justice for her two sons. In an effort to bring the sex scandal to light, Tracey hires attorney Zachary Blake and files a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the pastor and the church. Together, Blake and Tracey work to reveal the truth hidden by the secret church organization, The Coalition, who has orchestrated an elaborate cover up to the sexual abuse.
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