For Immediate Release- Dec. 22, 2003
Please Contact Attorney Ron Bamieh at (805) 643-5555, partner with the law firm of Bamieh & Erickson, PLC
Former Camarillo Catholic Priest Named in Sex-Abuse Lawsuit
Two men who were molested by a former Ventura County Catholic priest in the 1970s filed a lawsuit today to seek justice. The suit was filed in Ventura County Superior Court by the Ventura law firm of Bamieh & Erickson.
The two victims, who are brothers, were altar boys and attended church at St. Mary Magdalen parish in Camarillo. Both are now adults, ages 40 and 43, and they no longer live in the county.
Their abuser was the head priest assigned to this church. The sexual abuse of the two victims occurred between 1971 and 1975, when the boys were 7 and 11 years old. Given the sensitive nature of this case, the two victims are identified in court papers as John F. Doe and John R. Doe.
The lawsuit alleges that in the middle to late 1960's, the priest was assigned to the St. Rose of Lima Church in Maywood, California, and he allegedly sexually abused two young boys there.
In 1971, this priest was then transferred to St. Mary Magdalen in Camarillo, where he remained for several years and abused John F. Doe and John R. Doe. Their lawsuit alleges that the priest later worked as a minister at St. John's Hospital in Camarillo, where he was accused of sexually molesting several other young boys.
The Ventura County District Attorney's Office in April of this year filed 14 felony sexual-abuse criminal charges against this priest, in case numbers 2003 010088, and 2003 013245. However, because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision barring criminal prosecutions due to the statute of limitations, the District Attorney's Office was forced to drop these cases and the defendant was freed from jail after serving several months.
The civil lawsuit filed today alleges that the Archdiocese knew or should have known that the priest was abusing young boys but did nothing to stop the abuse.
The Archdiocese was made aware of the abuse by this priest at least by the early 1990s but there is no evidence the Archdiocese investigated the complaints of abuse. Instead, the priest was sent to St. Luke's, a treatment center for wayward priests, in Maryland for "evaluation." There is no evidence that the Archdiocese reported the complaints of sexual abuse to any law enforcement agency. The priest was kept on the Archdiocese payroll at least until 2002.
The victims in this lawsuit have had to live with the effects of the abuse for over 30 years. With the criminal prosecution discontinued, their only hope for justice is through this lawsuit.
The victims had hoped the Archdiocese would not force them to file a lawsuit and relive this horrible abuse a second time. However, the Archdiocese has not apologized and has not accepted any responsibility. The victims do not believe that the Archdiocese has done anything to investigate sexual abuse of this priest.
Because of rules imposed by the California Legislature, the defendants in this lawsuit are not permitted to be referred to by name until authorized by a Superior Court judge. The defendants named are: Doe Archdiocese, Doe Supervisor and Father John Doe.
"Although it will be difficult for the victims to relive the sexual abuse by this priest, we plan to aggressively pursue all those responsible for allowing this sexual predator to ruin the lives of so many young victims," Attorney Ron Bamieh said.
Attorney Philip Erickson added, "The Archdiocese has stated that it wants to assist the victims of sexual abuse. Law enforcement has already determined the validity of the abuse of these victims. Instead of following through on its stated goal, the Archdiocese has done nothing but force these victims to seek redress through the court system. Having forced the victims to file this lawsuit, we intend to bring to justice not only those who inflicted the abuse, but those who allowed the abuse to take place."