Report Names 84 San Bernardino Priests Accused Of Sex Abuse

Attorney Mike Reck presents San Bernardino report alongside clergy abuse survivors Manny Vega and Tom Emens. (Photo by Aaron Schrank for LAist)

A law firm representing California survivors of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests has released a new report detailing alleged abuse by clergy in the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino.

The 70-page report by Minnesota-based Jeff Anderson and Associates provides background information and assignment history on more than 80 clergy accused of sexual misconduct in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

The firm — which is representing a Camarillo man in a public nuisance suit against California's Catholic bishops — has released similar reports on the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of Orange in recent months.

At a news conference in Ontario Thursday, attorneys demanded San Bernardino Bishop Gerald Barnes release the names of predatory priests and Church officials who hid their behavior.

Attorney Mike Reck says today's disclosure makes children safer.

"This information is information that could have and should have been shared by Church officials long ago," Reck said. "We're doing this because the Diocese of San Bernardino did not."

In October, the Diocese of San Bernardino County released a list of 34 priests who have been accused of sexually abusing children since the diocese formed in 1978. Officials added one name to that list the following month.

Anderson's report includes those 35 names, as well as 32 names of priests accused of abuse in San Bernardino before 1978, when the region was still part of the Diocese San Diego.

Those 32 names can be found on the Diocese of San Diego's list of credibly accused priests, which recently added 8 new names, including Rev. Raymond Etienne, who served as pastor in a San Bernardino church 20 years ago. Etienne allegedly sexually assaulted seminarians in Riverside.


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The San Bernardino Diocese says it's made a good faith effort to be transparent about reports of sexual abuse by clergy.

"Our list is our very best effort to disclose the clergy abuse cases that happened in the years that we actually existed as a diocese, since 1978," said San Bernardino Diocese spokesman John Andrews.

"But because we did used to be part of San Diego, we also published the list that they put out and encouraged people to look at the two lists together to get the full picture of abuse cases in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. There was no attempt to mislead anyone."

Reck says 17 of the names in today's report aren't on either list produced by Church officials. They were verified based on court documents or media reports. Reck says there are likely more examples of abuse hidden in the Church's personnel files.

"This report is incomplete," Reck said. "Survivors and survivors' advocates created this report with publicly available information. The rest of this information is still held under lock and key by Church officials in San Bernardino and around the state."

Andrews said the Diocese of San Bernardino is open to looking into other cases and amending its list.

"The whole reason we're doing this is to be transparent and forthcoming with the people and in the name of healing for victims, because that's what we're called to do, and we're going to continue to do it," Andrews said.

Jeff Anderson and Associates' report highlighted the history of abuse handling in San Bernardino, including a 1950 letter from the Bishop of San Diego to Church officials in Rome complaining of the Franciscan Order using the communities of Beaumont and Banning as "a dumping ground for their moral, mental and physical problems."

The report also pointed out that the Diocese of San Bernardino was home to a halfway house for problem priests run by a religious congregation called the Servants of the Paraclete, which attorneys argue may have exposed parishioners in the region to abuse.

Attorneys tracked the movements of the priests over time, noting clergy members who were transferred both in and out of the country.

In recent months, dozens of Catholic jurisdictions around the country have released lists of priests credibly accused of child sex abuse. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles released the first update to its list in a decade — adding the names of 54 priests who were all accused of abuse since 2008.

Last month, however, L.A. auxiliary bishop Monsignor Alexander Salazar — whose name was not on the updated list — was removed from ministry after an oversight board in the L.A. Archdiocese found misconduct allegations against him credible.

The current wave of disclosures follows a Pennsylvania grand jury report released in August detailing allegations that Pittsburgh-area priests had molested more than 1,000 children.

Aaron Schrank covers religion, international affairs and the Southern California diaspora under a grant from the Luce Foundation.

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