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San Jose Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyer

San-Jose-Diocese-Clergy-Abuse-LawyersMany of the faithful are drawn to Catholicism to find purpose in their life and seek forgiveness to become better individuals. Most in the congregation raise their children on the edicts of the Church’s foundation delivered by righteous religious leaders of faith to build a strong community. Sadly, many clergy members use that power of authority to abuse children and vulnerable adults.

In December 2019, Pope Francis announced from the Vatican that the Roman Catholic Church was making significant changes in how Church leaders deal with predatory priests with credible allegations of sexual abuse of children. The announcement brings with it an abolishment of pontifical secrecy of covering up decades of evidence that would hold California clergy abusers accountable.

The new rule now prohibits forcing clergy members into silence and not releasing the names of priests with allegations of clerical sexual abuse in the Church. The new papal rules raise the age of cases involving sexual misconduct that could be considered child sex abuse from fourteen years old to eighteen. This new “zero-tolerance” of child sex offenders comes decades after the child sex abuse crisis made headlines around the world.

San Jose Diocese Sexual Assault Attorney

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has long served as a legal advocate for victims of child sex abuse in the San Jose and Santa Clara County religious community. With our years of experience, we use the law to protect our client’s rights. Our law firm understands the challenges of facing the Roman Catholic Church without legal assistance.

If you or your loved one is a Catholic clergy abuse victim, we can handle every aspect of your case to ensure the legal action you take has a successful outcome. Let us discuss your case confidentially in a safe environment to discuss the merits of a claim. We can provide numerous options to ensure you receive the justice you deserve.

Bishop McGrath Releases Names of Priests with Allegations of Child Sex Abuse

In October 2018, San Jose Bishop Patrick McGrath ordered the release of names identifying fifteen clergy members with credible allegations of clerical sexual abuse involving children and young people. Nine of the religious order priests on McGrath’s list are deceased, and the other Jesuit priests were permanently removed from active ministry. The allegations of clergy abuse against children and vulnerable adults occurred as far back as 1961 up to the present day.

Last month, Bishop McGrath gave his deepest apologies to each survivor of clergy assault. McGrath informed the congregation that there were no currently opened investigations of sexual abuse that had not been resolved or settled. While the Roman Catholic Church might have handled child sex abuse cases in San Jose and Santa Clara County, it might not extend to the Archdiocese of San Francisco or other diocese and parishes in the Bay area.

List of Diocese of San Jose Sexual Abusers

Bettencourt, Thomas

Ordained: 1976

The Diocese of San Jose publicly exposed Father Thomas Bettencourt’s credible accusation of sexually assaulting innocent victims. In 2018 San Jose Diocese list identified Reverend Bettencourt and other religious leaders accused of sexually abusing children and adults. An allegation arose in 1997 that the priest had engaged in sexually assaulting a minor while he was ministering parishioners at Saint Justin’s Parish in 1982.

Current Status: Died 1990

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Burke, Edward Thomas

Ordained: 1956

In 2000, Father Edward Thomas Burke spoke to the Jesuit Order Superior admitting that he sexually assaulted a “dependent adult man” while he was assigned at the Los Gatos Sacred Hearts Jesuit Center. The Jesuits reassigned Reverend Burke out of the diocese but never reported the allegations of sexual molestation to law enforcement. In 2002, Father Burke pled guilty to charges and received a two-year prison sentence when he was eighty years old. The Jesuit Order settled claims of sexually inappropriate behavior filed against the Reverend and Brother Charles Leonard Conner in 2002 for $7.5 million. The San Diego Diocese notes revealed evidence of Father Burke sexually abusing vulnerable adults occurring between 1990 and 2000.

Current Status: Died 2/2009

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Connor, Charles Leonard

In 1995 and 1997, Brother Charles Leonard Connor faced allegations of sexually molesting two dependent adult men who worked and lived at the Los Gatos Sacred Hearts Jesuit Center. Brother Connor admitted he had inappropriately touched his victims. Church officials restricted the Brother’s activities but failed to report the accusations to the local law enforcement. In 2000, the case was reopened. During that time, investigators found documents through a search warrant that Brother Connor’s abusive behavior might have occurred over three decades between 1970 and 2000. Church officials relocated Connor to live at a school. In 2001, the Brother pled “no contest” to the charges and never received jail time. In September 2002, the San Jose Diocese settled cases involving Brother Connor’s sexual abuse allegations for $7.5 million. That same year, he was accused of abusing a Jesuit priest. However, the evidence was deemed unproven. After Brother Connor was housed with the Jesuit priest who had made the accusations of Connor’s sexually inappropriate behavior, the accuser died by apparent suicide.

Current Status: Died 2011

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Dondero, L. Joseph

Ordained: 1946

In 2018, the Diocese of San Jose publicly exposed Father L. Joseph Dondero’s credible accusation of sexually assaulting innocent victims. In 2002, allegations arose that Reverend Dondero had sexually molested an underage minor during the 1960s while he was assigned to St. Joseph’s Parish. Church reports dated from 2003 and 2005 revealed evidence that the priest had sexually abused a child between 1961 and 1965.

Current Status: Accused

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Dunn, Raymond V.

Ordained: 1957

In 2018, the Jesuit West Province publicly exposed Father Raymond V. Dunn’s credible accusation of sexually assaulting innocent victims. Church documents revealed allegations of Reverend Dunn sexually assaulting an underage child in 2002. Church officials dismissed Father done from ministry in June 2001.

Current Status: Died 2012

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Farmer, Donald G.

In 1987, Church the officials removed Brother Donald G. Farmer from the Sacramento Jesuit High School after receiving reports of sexual misconduct. The Brother had been assigned at the high school since 1976. In 2002, Church officials removed Brother Farmer from his Loyola Marymount University administrative position after allegations arose that he had sexually assaulted a student at Jesuit High. In 2012, a 1968 San Jose Bellarmine Prep graduate student spoke to the Jesuit Order. The former student stated that the Brother had sexually molested him during the 1960s at the school, where the Brother supervised campus residents. Jesuit High administrators sent out a letter to all alumni. In response, numerous former students stepped forward and stated that Brother Farmer had also sexually assaulted them. In 2003, the Church sent Brother Farmer to the Los Gatos Sacred Hearts Retreat Center to remain under supervision. In 2012, four other alleged victims stepped forward. Church documents reveal that they receive reports in 2003 and 2012 over incidents involving sexual assault occurring between 1963 and 1970, from 1973 through 1975, and finally in 1981 through 1986.

Current Status: Named in a civil lawsuit

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Flickinger, Don D.

Ordained: 1964

In 2011, a civil lawsuit was filed against Father Don D. Flickinger over accusations that the priest had sexually assaulted a thirteen-year-old male in 2001 at San Jose’s Saint Frances Cabrini Parish. The lawsuit revealed allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior in the Fresno and San Francisco dioceses that lasted over four decades. The document reveals that church officials were aware of Fresno Diocese-ordained Reverend Flickinger inappropriate activities. Other alleged victims and witnesses provided statements in the lawsuit to support the claim. A second victim, a woman, also filed a lawsuit. A third lawsuit was filed in September 2012. The Catholic Church settled all three cases in 2013. As of 2018, Father Flickinger was still a part of the Diocese of Fresno although he was permanently banned from his duties in 2006, other than conducting clergy funeral masses. Allegations of the priest’s inappropriate behavior were documented in 2002, 2005, 2006. Between 1981 and 1983, the Reverend served as the Christian Brothers Novitiate chaplain.

Current Status: Lawsuit settled

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Gray, Robert A.

Ordained: 1988

The California justice system sentenced Father Robert A. Gray to 160 days in jail, followed by five years of probation on his conviction of sexually assaulting a teenage male while providing him karate lessons in 1993. Additional charges that included two other male victims were dismissed. The Reverend received psychiatric treatment before his reassignment to the Diocese of San Jose in 1995. Church officials removed Reverend Gray as the Head of Cemeteries Department. In June 2002, the Church placed him on permanent leave. The 2018 San Jose Diocese list noted allegations of inappropriate sexual contact with underage minors between 1991 and 1993 while he was assigned at Saint Justin’s Parish.

Current Status: Removed from Ministry

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Harrison, Arthur

Ordained: 1956

In 2003, the Marion County District Attorney’s Office charged San Jose Diocese Father Arthur Harrison with sexually abusing a ten-year-old female minor in 1961 while he was assigned to Our Lady of Loretto Parish. In July 2003, the case was dismissed after a United States Supreme Court ruling. In 1998, Reverend Harrison faced allegations of sexually molesting two in San Jose and having a consensual affair with the victims’ mother. Law enforcement did not charge the Reverend was sexual abuse. The Diocese of San Jose settled two claims in June 2005 involving Father Harrison as a part of the Archdiocese of San Francisco $21.2 million settlement that involved five religious leaders.

Current Status: Died 2006

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Largente, Laurent

Ordained: 1959

In 2018, the Diocese of San Jose publicly exposed Father Laurent Largente’s credible accusation of sexually assaulting innocent victims. Church documents reveal that the Diocese of San Jose received a report alleging that Reverend Largente sexually assaulted an underage minor between 1980 and 1983 while the priest was assigned to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. In 1994, Church officials temporarily removed the priest from ministry and, and 2002, permanently banned him from ministry.

Current Status: Died 2015

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Larkin, Alexander C.

Ordained: 1967

In December 2004, Church officials placed Father Alexander C. Larkin on leave after allegations arose that he sexually molested two minors between 1975 and 1980 while he was at Palo Alto, CA Our Lady of the Rosary Parish. Another alleged victim came forward accusing Reverend Larkin of sexual abuse in 1980 when the Reverend was at Saint William’s Church. In December 2003, the Diocese settled at least one civil lawsuit. A second lawsuit was settled in 2006 when the Reverend was on leave. Law enforcement never filed criminal charges. Church records indicate that, in 2005, officials placed the Reverend on restricted leave. In 2009, Father Larkin was placed permanent leave from active ministry.

Current Status: Named in a civil lawsuit

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Mariano, Angel Crisostomo

Ordained: 1992

In 1998, the California justice system convicted Father Angel Crisostomo Mariano of child molestation after charging him with performing oral sex on an underage male while the priest posed as a cross-dressing 25-year-old woman. Reverend Mariano received a five-month jail sentence. At least five years before the 1998 arrest, the Jesuit Order had reprimanded the priest for his inappropriate sexual conduct after reassigning him to many different locations since 1988. Upon his prison release, he was reassigned to the Los Gatos Jesuit community to live and work around other religious leaders who had been abusing two mentally disabled patients. In 1998, the Catholic Church permanently banned Father Mariano from active ministry. In 2002, Jesuit leaders dismissed Mariano from the Order.

Current Status: Removed from ministry 1998

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Moniz, John Rodriques

In 1995, the California justice system convicted Brother John Rodrigues Moniz on charges of lewd conduct involving an underage female. Brother Moniz received a three years probation sentence that ended in 1998. The court also ordered him to pay for all of the victim’s uninsured psychological treatments and medical expenses. When the abusive behavior occurred, Moniz was residing at the Los Gatos, CA Sacred Heart Retirement Center. He lives there with other sex offenders and abusers. The Church later relocated Brother Moniz to the Dittmer, MO Vianney Renewal Center. The 2018 Jesuit West Province List noted that in 1995, Church officials received information on Moniz involving allegations of sexual abuse with a minor that occurred in 1991.

Current Status: Died 2008

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Moss, George

Ordained: Prior to 1943

In 2018, the Diocese of San Jose publicly exposed Father George Moss’s credible accusation of sexual misconduct involving children. The alleged molestation with minors occurred between 1963 and 1976 when Father Moss was assigned to the Mountain View, CA St. Joseph’s Parish. The settlement involved the San Francisco Archdiocese when it oversaw the Parish before the Diocese of San Jose was established in 1981. Church officials receive reports on the allegations of the priest’s inappropriate sexual conduct in 2002, 2004, 2012. Reverend Moss retired from the ministry in 1976.

Current Status: Died 1986

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Noia, Leonel C.

Ordained: 1973

An article published in May 2002 revealed the testimony of two boys in 1976 accusing Father Leonel C. Noia of showing them pornographic materials and rubbing their genitals while they were on a camping trip. The young victims discussed what happened to them with a family that was camping near them, who then notified the police. Law enforcement arrested and charged Reverend Noia with the crime. After pleading no contest, the Reverend received a six-month jail sentence followed by five years of probation. The court ordered Noia to receive psychiatric treatment. Church officials allowed him to return to ministry in 1978. However, by June 2002, the Church permanently banned Noia from active ministry. A month later, two new allegations arose, followed by a filed civil lawsuit in March 2003. The Diocese of San Jose resolved both claims in June 2005 with a negotiated $21.2 million settlement that included the Archdiocese of San Francisco. The settlement resolved claims involving five priests.

Current Status: Died 2005

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Pritchard, Joseph T.

Ordained: 1948

Years after Father Joseph T. Pritchard’s death, the priest was accused of sexually assaulting at least nineteen minor children, including his nephew. The alleged incidents of sexual molestation occurred between 1956 and the late 1970s. The Church received twenty-three lawsuits against the priest and two dioceses in 2002 and 2003. In June 2005, ten of those claims were resolved in a negotiated settlement of $21.2 million with the Archdiocese of San Francisco. The following month in July 2005, the Diocese of San Diego reached a $16 million negotiated settlement to resolve more twelve claims. As of October 2018, Reverend Pritchard’s name appeared on the Diocese of San Jose List.

Current Status: Died 1988

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Senevirante, Noel

Ordained: Prior to 1970

In 2018, the Diocese of San Jose publicly exposed Father Noel Senevirante’s credible accusation of sexually assaulting an innocent child. Reverend Senevirante was excardinated (transferred to another diocese) from the Trincomalee-Batticaloa Diocese in Sri Lanka to the San José Diocese. In 2002, Church officials in San Jose received a report alleging that Father Senevirante sexually molested an underage child in 1971 to 1972 while he was serving parishioners at the Saint Leo the Great School. In 2002, the Roman Catholic Church banned Senevirante from ministry.

Current Status: Died 2009

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Stretch, Edward M.

The 2018 Jesuits West Province list publicly exposed Father Edward M. Stretch’s credible accusation of sexually assaulting an innocent minor. In 2012, a report was received involving accusations of Reverend Stretch sexually molesting a minor. During Father Stretch’s career, he was assigned to work as a US Army chaplain between 1942 and 1946, and at the San Jose Bellarmine Prep. between 1940 and 1942, and again between 1954 and 1970. The Reverend was also assigned to parishes in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, San Jose, and San Francisco.

Current Status: Died 1970

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Sunseri, Phil

Ordained: 1964

In 2018, the Diocese of San Jose publicly exposed Father Phil Sunseri’s credible accusation of sexually assaulting innocent victims. Church officials at the Diocese indicated that they receive the reports of the sexual assault in 1987 and 2018. The reports indicate that Reverend Sunseri sexually molested minors in 1986 at Saint Christopher’s Parish. The sexually abusive behavior also took place in 1987 when the Reverend was assigned to Holy Family Parish. In 1988, Church officials banned Father Sunseri from active ministry, even though he denied the allegations. The December 2018 Jesuits West Province List reported that there were allegations of the priest’s sexual molestation involving an underage child in 1986 that were reported to the Church in 2018. In 1988, the Jesuits dismissed Reverend Sunseri from the Order.

Current Status: Accused of inappropriate sexual behavior

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Toro, Hernan

Ordained: 1956

In 2018, the Diocese of San Jose publicly exposed Father Hernan Toro’s credible accusation of sexually assaulting innocent victims. Church documents from the Popayan Archdiocese in Columbia revealed allegations that Reverend Toro sexually assaulted an underage minor while he had been working at the Alviso Our Lady Star of the Sea in 1983. The court convicted Father Toro and ordered him to register as a sex offender. Even so, Church officials allowed Reverend Toro to remain in active ministry. In 1990, the Church banned Toro from serving the congregation. As of October 2017, former Reverend Tauro was serving a jail sentence on accusations that he sexually assaulted two girls. At the time of the assault, one girl was between the age of four and six years old, and the other was eleven years old. Toro’s name appeared in a filed civil lawsuit in February 2019.

Current Status: Convicted and jailed for sexual assault of a minor

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Van der Putten, Benedict

Ordained: 1992

Between 1995 and 2000, Father Benedict Van der Putten served as the Los Gatos Saint Aloysius Retreat House master. In 2000, the priest faced allegations that he sexually assaulted an underage girl at the Retreat House and had attempted to molest others. Van der Putten was a traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X member that is not a part of the Diocese of San Jose nor recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. Reverend Van der Putten arrived in the US from the Switzerland Society headquarters and worked for a time in the Scranton Diocese (2001). His request to become a part of the Diocese of Scranton was denied by the Vatican after allegations arose of sexual misconduct involving the girl at the Retreat House. His Order sent him to Canada to receive treatment at the Southdown Institute. Van der Putten admitted to sexually assaulting an underage girl in Europe in 2001. The priest’s name appears on the August 2018 Diocese of Scranton list and is likely living in Hawaii.

Current Status: Laicized/Defrocked 2005 

Diocese of San Jose Settles Clergy Abuse Cases from Decades Ago

Recently, the Diocese of San Jose revealed details of Reverend Leonel Noia’s sexual misconduct occurring in 1976 while on a camping trip. Father Noia was convicted and sentenced to jail for the sexual assault of an underage male.

Church officials had suspended the priest’s from active ministry for three years after the incident. However, the Reverend was allowed to return to serve parishioners over the next two dozen years while working at three parishes in San Jose. Noia passed away in the early 2000s.

Jesuit priest Joseph Pritchard faced allegations and was named in a civil lawsuit for repeatedly sexually abusing a parish altar boy nearly four decades ago. The lawsuit documents included the names of priests, including Pritchard, as defendants. Church leaders from the San Jose Diocese settled the case for $21.2 million in 2005.

The Long-Lasting Effects of Child Sexual Assault

Clerical sexual abuse involving young children and vulnerable adults can create long-lasting emotional and physical harm. In the days and months after the abuse, the victim may suffer severe medical conditions, including sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies, and physical injuries.

The long-term emotional trauma of a survivor of clergy molestation might involve anxiety, depression, eating disorders, self-harming behavior, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide, or suicidal ideation (thinking about committing suicide).

When a young child grows into a vulnerable adult experiencing sexual abuse, they may misuse alcohol and drugs, participate in criminal behavior, or struggle with the challenges of developing long-lasting healthy relationships. Children and young people who have been sexually abused are at heightened risk of sexual exploitation. Many sexual predators will pass their victims around to other abusers to be used for the predator’s sexual gratification.

Decades ago, most parents of a survivor of clergy abuse and sexual assault failed to take any action to protect their child. Alternatively, they would tell the young boy or girl not to speak ill of religious order clergy and never discuss what happened out loud.

In modern times, parents, family members, friends, and witnesses have a moral obligation to speak directly to local law enforcement and child social services to protect the innocent victim from further abuse. Sexual abuse survivors and others can report the incident to California Child protective services for an immediate response in Santa Clara County at (408) 299-2071 or (800) 856-5553 in the Bay area and Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Diocese of San Jose Clergy Sexual Abuse Attorneys Can Help

If you are a victim of sexual assault harmed by an Archdiocese of San Francisco or San Jose Diocese religious leader, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can help. Contact us today at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a free, no-obligation case consultation. Let us review the merits of your case to discuss your lawsuit options in a confidential setting to ensure you receive financial compensation.

Changes in the California statute of limitations law provides new opportunities for plaintiffs to file a claim against the Church no matter when the abuse occurred. We handle cases involving clergy abusers whose current status is in “active ministry,” on administrative leave, removed from the priesthood, in retirement, or has died.

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