Orange Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyer
For two millenniums, Catholicism has spread the truth of finding salvation through the Vatican papacy. Under the guidance of Pope Francis, ordained men are given the authority to preach the word and forgive parishioners’ sins. Sadly, many priests, bishops, cardinals, pastors, and other religious leaders use their power to harm innocent children and vulnerable adults through sexual abuse or molestation.
Less than ten years ago, the Vatican took a stand to ensure the protection of children by handling cases involving clergy abuse and sexual misconduct appropriately. The new policy of protecting young people extends to parishes in all areas of the world, including the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, Dioceses of Fresno, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Diocese of San Diego, and other Catholic dioceses.
Orange Diocese Sexual Assault Attorney
For years, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has provided advocacy and legal assistance for victims-survivors of sexual abuse of minors in the Diocese of Orange religious community. With our years of experience, we use California law to protect our client’s rights and personal privacy. Our law firm remains committed to obtaining the maximum monetary compensation that the victim deserves. If you or your loved one is a Catholic clergy abuse survivor, we can handle all aspects of your case to ensure the legal action you take results in a successful outcome.
With our years of experience, we have successfully resolved litigation involving religious institutions in all California dioceses, including Orange Diocese, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and San Diego Diocese. Our compassionate attorneys understand that the assault you endured created long-lasting effects that shape your close relationships, friendships, and the ability to trust others. Let us begin taking actions today to ensure you complete the healing process.
List of Clergy Abusers in the Diocese of Orange
Anderson, Andrew Christian
In 1986, the California court system convicted Father Andrew Christian Andersen of twenty-six counts of felony sexual molestation involving four underage males. The priest received a five-year probation sentence after undergoing treatment at Servants of Paracletes. However, the Reverend continued to sexually assault young males while receiving therapy. In 1990, the priest was rearrested in New Mexico and charged with sexually abusing another minor. The Court system sentenced Father Andrew Christian Andersen 26 years in state prison over a California probation violation. The Catholic Church defrocked the priest during the 1990s. Before 2005, the Catholic Church settled cases involving Andersen’s sexual misconduct with innocent underage victims for more than $4.6 million.
Current Status: Laicized
Aranda, Sofronio A. (Pon)
In 1984, Father Sofronio A. (Pon) Aranda was named as a defendant along with other priests in a civil lawsuit filed. An underage girl had been sexually assaulted by seven Filipino priests, including Father Aranda, who all ministered at the Diocese of Orange. After the lawsuits had been filed in 2003, each reverend fled the United States back to the Philippines with the support of Church Officials that found the allegations credible. The Church continued to provide support to the underage victim’s child that had been fathered by one of the priests. Documents show that the priest arrived in the United States in 1975, working in Corona for five years before the Church relocated him in 1992 to Texas at the Galveston-Houston Diocese. In 2005, Aranda’s name appeared as a subject in a diocese $1.55 million lawsuit settlement.
Current Status: Died 1996
In 1993, Brother Gregory Atherton faced accusations of sexually molesting three underage males. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles revealed that there were five accusers in total alleging sexual molestation that occurred between Brother Atherton and them between 1967 and 1986. There were four additional allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior made to the Diocese of Orange involving Atherton. However, his name did not appear in the settlement documents in 2005, resolving cases involving abusive religious leaders for over $4.1 million. An article written in 2002 identified Atherton as under close supervision while working at the Portland, Oregon National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother.
Current Status: Named in a lawsuit 1993
Baird, Lawrence J.
For years, Father Lawrence J. Baird served as the Diocese of Orange spokesman. In 2002, the Reverend was accused of sexually assaulting an underage female who sought out his advice after she said reported that was sexually molested by Father John Lenihan. In response to the lawsuit that year, the priest countersued, but the case was dismissed. The court ordered that Reverend Baird pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees. A second female stepped forward, making allegations that Reverend Baird had sexually assaulted her when she was a minor. As of the Diocese website, the priest remains active in the ministry.
Current Status: Accused
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles identified three accusers alleging that Father Franklin Buckman had sexually assaulted him between 1962 and 1981. One victim filed a civil lawsuit. In 1984, Reverend Buckman stated he resigned from his Diocese of Orange Parish due to the “burden of administration.” However, it was later revealed that his resignation correlated with the allegations of abuse. Church officials then relocated Buckman to the Diocese of Baker in Oregon. One of the California victim’s mothers complained that Father Buckman had sexually assaulted her son in 1989. The church removed Buckman from ministry and allowed him to retire in Arizona in 2002. In 2005, Church officials for the Diocese of Orange reached a negotiated settlement of nearly $2 million with plaintiffs. After the priest’s retirement, Buckman was living a “Life of Prayer and Penance.”
Current Status: Retired 2002
After his ordination in the Diocese of Gallup, NM, Father Santino Casimano was incardinated (reassigned from one diocese to another) to the Diocese of Orange in 1976. Between 1980 and 2000, Reverend Santino Casamino served as a Navy Chaplain. In 2004, two brothers accused Casimano of sexual misconduct while at the Orange Diocese years earlier. At the time that the allegations were made in 2004, the priest was serving as the Uncasville, Connecticut St. Bernard High School principal. In 2005, the Diocese of Orange reached a negotiated settlement with the victims for $4.2 million. Reverend Casimano’s name appears on the 2019 Norwich Diocese’s list and the 2018 Gallup Diocese’s list.
Current Status: Died 2005
Coffield, John V.
An adult male came forward making accusations that Father John V. Coffield had sexually assaulted him when he was a child between 1960 and 1962 at the Los Angeles Dolores Mission. In December 2003, Reverend Coffield’s name appeared in a filed civil lawsuit. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles identified one accuser associated with the Reverend and reported that the priest had sexually molested the victim in the Diocese of Orange. However, his name does not appear on the list of abusers from the Orange Diocese. A second lawsuit involving another accuser was filed in civil court.
Current Status: Died 2005
In 2004, reports indicate that Church officials placed Father Richard Delahunty on leave during an investigation involving accusations that the priest sexually assaulted an underage male in 1981. The Reverend denied the claim, and the victim filed a civil lawsuit. The sexual abuse survivor stated that he notified a Diocesan administrator when the molestation occurred. The 2003 Orange Diocese list reveals Father Delahunty’s name along with five other religious leaders accused of sexually inappropriate behavior with underage children. The Diocese of Orange settled with the plaintiff in 2005. The previous year, the Diocese Review Board found that there was “no credible evidence” against Delahunty and allowed him to return to ministry.
Current Status: Named in a lawsuit settlement
Falvey, Sinon F.
Between 1976 and 1989, Father Sinon F. Falvey served as the Orange, CA Saint Norbert Church pastor and supervised John Lenihan and John Kenney, known sexual abusers. By June 2009, a civil lawsuit filed by a plaintiff identified Reverend Sinon Falvey as a sexual abuser with accusations that he molested an altar boy between 1990 and 1992, in the years after he retired from the ministry. SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) reported that other victims stepped forward, making accusations that the priest at sexually assaulted him/her.
Current Status: Named in a lawsuit
A 2002 report indicates that in 1985, the Orange Diocese Chancellor Reverend Driscoll, who would later become the Boise Diocese Bishop attempted to reassign Father Robert Foley from his Southern California diocese to Liverpool, England. The desire to reassign the priest came just after Foley had admitted to sexually assaulting an eight-year-old male while on a Saint Justin Martyr Parish-organized camping trip. The victim’s mother threatened the church that she would report the incident to the police. To avoid harassment and possible imprisonment, Reverend Foley moved to England and was never prosecuted for the incident. The Catholic Church settled a lawsuit involving the victim, while the Reverend remained on “voluntary permanent leave.”
Current Status: Currently living a life of prayer and penance
Harris, Michael A.
In 1994, Church officials removed Father Michael A. Harris from the Ministry after a deceased victim’s mother alleged that the priest had sexually assaulted her son, who had died of AIDS. In 1994, another Santa Ana Mater Dei High School male student accused Reverend Harris of inappropriate sexual behavior. His civil lawsuit filed in 1994 was later dropped. The Diocese of Orange settled a case with another accuser in 2001 for a negotiated $5.2 million. Church officials laicized (defrocked) Father Harris in November 2001. By 2003, other victims also filed civil lawsuits. During Father Harris’ career, he was assigned at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Orange Diocese. In June 2012, the Orange Diocese settled a civil lawsuit for $2 million just before the case went to trial. By December 2019, another civil lawsuit was filed on allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior by Reverend Harris.
Current Status: Laicized 2001
Horvath, Bertrand W.
In 2002, a filed civil lawsuit revealed accusations that Father Bertrand W. Horvath had sexually assaulted a Mission Viejo altar boy during the early 1970s before the formation of the Diocese of Orange. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles was part of a lawsuit filed by the Reverend’s Order forcing the Archdiocese to share in the responsibility of resolving the case. In 1974, Father Horvath left the of LA Archdiocese and was reassigned to other dioceses, including the Diocese of Amarillo. In 2001, Church officials placed Reverend Father Bertrand W. Horvath on leave due to the allegations. It was then that the Orange Diocese notified the Amarillo Diocese of the allegations of abuse involving the priest. In 2019, Reverend Father Bertrand W. Horvath remained on the Diocese of Las Vegas list.
Current Status: Deceased
Peru-native Father Edgardo Arrunataegui Jimenez ministered in Honduras before he was incardinated (transferred to another diocese) to the Diocese of Orange in 1987. Reverend Jimenez left the area to do missionary work during the 1990s in Peru. In January 2004, he was first publicly identified with credible evidence of sexually molesting innocent victims “years ago.” Even though the Diocese dealt with the accusation, Church officials failed to inform local law enforcement until 2004. In 2009, the priest was ministering to parishioners in Madrid while still being named on the Peruvian Chimbote Diocese list. In 2017, a news team found Father Edgardo Jimenez working for the Chimbote Diocese as a hospital chaplain. Since leaving the Diocese of Orange, the Reverend has used different names, including Edgardo Arrunategui, Horacio Jimenez, and others.
Current Status: Accused of inappropriate sexual behavior
In 1976, Father John Knoernschild was assigned to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles before the Diocese of Orange was established. The Reverend left the Archdiocese in 1996 and returned two years later before leaving again in 2001. A former Crespi Carmelite High School student accused Father Knoernschild of sexually assaulting him between 1977 and 1978. In 2006, at least one claim filed against the priest was resolved by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Reverend’s Order for $10 million.
Current Status: Died 2010
Lenihan, John Peter
In 1991, Irish-native Father John Peter Lenihan admitted to church officials that he had sexually molested an underage girl during the 1970s. The Diocese of Orange settled a lawsuit with the victim for $25,000 but allowed the Reverend to continue in active ministry. In September 2001, the Church removed the priest from ministry after Lenihan told a Los Angeles Times columnist that he had sexual relationships with several individuals in the past. In 2001, Reverend Lenihan was named in a second lawsuit alleging he had sexually abused another teenage girl beginning in the late 1970s. The Diocese of Orange settled that lawsuit for $1.2 million. In 2003, the justice system dropped criminal charges due to then-recent ruling by the US Supreme Court invalidating the California statute of limitations law.
Current Status: Laicized/Defrocked 2002
Lord, John “Jack”
In 2003, the Diocese of Orange released credible evidence alleging that Father John “Jack” Lord, and five other priests, sexually assaulted underage children. In February 1989, when Reverend Lord was forty-six years old, he died from complications of AIDS. The Diocese assigned Father Lord to the Saint Columban Parish in the years before his death. In December 2003, a plaintiff filed a civil lawsuit against Reverend Lord and the Diocese. In 2005, the Catholic Church reached a settlement agreement for over $3.7 million.
Current Status: Died 1989
In June 2009, an alleged victim filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Orange and Father Alexander Manville, accusing the priest and Reverend Gus Krumm of sexually assaulting him when he was eight years old. At the time of the alleged sexual assault between 1992 and 1993, the religious leaders worked at Saints Simon and Jude Catholic Church. Reverend Manville served as a Bishop Diego High School faculty member. By 2009, he was listed as a “nonpracticing priest” while living in a Catholic Church retreat house. In January 2011, the victim’s brother joined in a civil lawsuit and made separate allegations that Manville and Krumm had sexually assaulted him between 1990 and 1994. The Orange Diocese settled the case in August 2011.
Current Status: Likely living in a retreat house
Mohan, Thomas Joseph
In October 2018, a civil lawsuit filed by a male victim accused Monsignor Thomas Joseph Mohan of sexually assaulting him during his childhood years that lasted over two years. The victim says that the sexual assault started in 1978 when he was ten years old, and Monsignor Mohan was serving parishioners at his Parish. Monsignor Mohan had served in the priesthood at the Archdiocese of Chicago during the early 1970s before transferring to the Anaheim, CA Saint Anthony’s Parish, where he allegedly abused the victim. The plaintiff in the case said that he had heard there was another victim sexually assaulted by Thomas Mohan. The Archdiocese of Chicago Church officials received the second complaint involving allegations that Mohan had sexually assaulted others in California. The lawsuit names all California Bishops and the Bishop of the Chicago Archdiocese as defendants in the case. A December 2018 Archdiocese of Los Angeles list noted that the Catholic Church received a report in 2018 of incidents involving Mohan’s inappropriate sexual activity between 1974 and 1975, and 1978 through 1980.
Current Status: Died 2002
In 2002, Father Dominic Nguyen was excardinated (transferred to another diocese) from the Diocese of Orange to Idaho after Church officials became aware he was in a relationship with a woman. In 2003, Church officials reassigned Reverend Nguyen to the Diocese of Orange after a repairman found child pornography on the priest’s Idaho Church computer. The Church placed the Reverend on leave immediately. Authorities in Idaho later determined there was no credible evidence to press criminal charges. In August 2016, the Diocese of Orange Website showed that Father Dominic Nguyen was on “voluntary permanent leave.” As of April 2019, Nguyen requested to be defrocked (laicized).
Current Status: On a voluntary permanent leave
Pillon, Gordon John
In May 2006, the Diocese of Peoria placed Father Gordon John Pillon on leave of absence after learning of allegations involving sexual assault. The sexual abuse incidents involving Reverend Pillon reportedly occurred in the early 1980s while the priest was assigned to the Diocese of Orange. In the 1990s, Pillon was incardinated (assigned to a diocese) to the Diocese of Peoria. Church officials then assigned Pillon to the Charlotte Diocese (North Carolina) between 1996 and 1999. In April 2009, a former priest filed a civil lawsuit alleging that Father Pillon had sexually assaulted him during his teenage years while he lived in California. The lawsuit document stated that the Church forced him out of the priesthood after telling Diocese of Peoria officials about the abuse that occurred. In 2006. Reverend Pillon faced additional accusations of sexual misconduct in the Diocese of Peoria. In 2009, Pillon was reportedly teaching at the University of Northern Virginia in Prague. The Reverend’s name appears on the 2019 Charlotte Diocese list and the 2018 Peoria Diocese list.
Current Status: Accused of sexual misconduct
In June 2019, Father Edward Poettgen’s name appeared in a filed civil lawsuit. The document accuses Reverend Poettgen of sexually abusing a six-year-old boy in 1994 when the priest was working at the Stanton, CA Saint Polycarp Parish. At the time of the alleged incident, the underage male was a parish school student. Five months earlier, in January 2019, another individual accused Poettgen of sexual molestation. However, Church officials never informed the parishioners. The Diocese of Orange said that the Church placed Poettgen on administrative leave before January 2020. However, the victim’s attorney in the lawsuit stated that by late January 2020, the Reverend had told the plaintiff’s lawyers that he was still working in active ministry at the Anaheim, CA Saint Boniface Parish pastor.
Current Status: Named in a civil lawsuit
In October 2010, a Diocese of Orange church bulletin revealed accusations made by an alleged victim that Father Timothy Ramaekers is a sexual molester. The victim states that Reverend Ramaekers had sexually assaulted him in 1986 while the priest was the Saint Justin Martyr Church parochial vicar. From 1997, the Reverend had been assigned as the Placentia, CA St. Joseph Parish pastor. After the allegations arose, the Diocese of Orange never placed Father Ramaekers on administrative leave. The Diocese Review Board found no supporting evidence to validate the allegation. In 2009, the same victim filed a civil lawsuit alleging three former priests and a lay employee had sexually assaulted him. In May 2012, Church officials reassigned Father Timothy Ramaekers to a new parish. The priest has denied all allegations.
Current Status: Named in a civil lawsuit
Ramirez, Luis Eduardo
In January 2008, local law enforcement arrested Father Luis Eduardo Ramirez after he took a minor male child to a motel room to provide “counseling.” The Reverend’s Order bailed the priest out of jail. In June of the same year, he pled guilty to misdemeanor burglary and battery. Other charges were dismissed. Reverend Ramirez admitted he had inappropriately touched the teenage boy. In August 2008, Father Ramirez received a six-month jail sentence followed by three years of probation and was released from incarceration in March 2009. Church officials removed Reverend Ramirez’s privileges.
Current Status: Arrested on misdemeanor battery and burglary
Ruhl, John (Jon) E.
In 1983, Father John (Jon) E. Ruhl was incardinated (assigned to a diocese) into the Diocese of Orange. In 1992, Church officials knew of one allegation involving Reverend Ruhl molesting three underage children between 1970 and 1982. Ruhl was named as a predatory priest in an LA Archdiocese report. His name was found on the Diocese of Orange list of sexual assaulters and a civil lawsuit (2018). In 2005, one case involving Ruhl was settled with the victim. In September 2013, Church officials released his personnel file. Documents show that Reverend Ruhl also worked in Perryville and Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and is listed on the April 2019 Springfield-Cape Girardeau diocese’s list. The Diocese of Orange website in 2016 noted that Father Ruhl was living “a life of prayer and penance.”
Current Status: Deceased
An article published in 2003 revealed that Church officials placed Deacon Cesar Salazar on leave during an investigation conducted by the Diocese of Orange. Church officials accused Deacon Salazar of downloading child porn. In 2001, the first charges against the Deacon arose. Local law enforcement found over 100 images of child pornography but never filed charges due to a lack of evidence. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also looked into the case but took no further action. The Diocese of Orange sent Salazar to receive counseling.
Current Status: Laicized/Defrocked
Sheahan, John A.
An Archdiocese of Los Angeles report revealed that at least one individual accused Father John A. Sheahan of sexual molestation that occurred between 1961 and 1965. In December 2003, a civil lawsuit filed by an accuser alleges that Reverend Sheahan had sexually molested three victims. A civil lawsuit identified Father John A. Sheahan spelled Sheehan. In the early 1970s, the Reverend went into medical retirement after undergoing brain surgery.
Current Status: Named in a civil lawsuit
Tanilong, Gerardo Jarencio
Reports indicate that law enforcement arrested Father Gerardo Jarencio Tanilong after receiving a formal complaint that the Reverend had sexually assaulted a fifteen-year-old girl a week earlier. At the time, the Diocese of Orange Church officials placed Reverend Tanilong on leave after he had worked for the Diocese for seventeen years. In 1986, Tanilong had arrived from the Philippines and was incardinated (assigned to a diocese) the Diocese of Orange four years later in 1990. In January 2004, the priest pled guilty to charges. Three months later, he received a six-month jail sentence followed by three years of probation. At that time, the Orange Diocese suspended Tanilong’s privileges. In February 2012, his name appeared on the California Sex Offender Registry after his violation in October 2009 of not registering as required by court order.
Current Status: Died before August 2016
California Assembly Bill Extends the Statute of Limitations
In 2019, the state legislature enacted a new Assembly bill that extends the statute of limitations to allow survivors of clergy abuse to file civil lawsuits for compensation. With the new changes in the law, an Orange county clergy abuse lawyer can now file a lawsuit on behalf of their client, who is a victim of sexual misconduct by clergy members in incidents that occurred decades ago.
The Assembly bill, signed by Governor Newsom, does not provide youth protection from church leaders now and in the future. Instead, it creates a three-year open-window to file a civil lawsuit. Now, survivors of clergy abuse of any age can file a civil suit between January 1, 2020, and January 1, 2023, no matter when the assault occurred.
California Independent Compensation Program Helps Victims Heal
As of September 2019, a press conference revealed that an independent oversight committee managed by the Catholic Diocese of Orange County has begun managing a comprehensive program to assist victim-survivors of sexual abuse of minors. In addition to the Diocese of Orange, other participating dioceses including the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Diocese of San Bernardino, Diocese of San Diego, Sacramento Diocese, and Dioceses of Fresno are accepting registrations for sexual abuse victims that are eligible for compensation.
Any eligible survivor of sexual abuse harmed by clergy members when the victim was a minor can participate in obtaining financial support no matter when the assault occurred. The California Independent Compensation Program for Victims-Survivors of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests (ICP) in Los Angeles continues the California Catholic Conference’s commitment to offering pastoral care to those injured by sexual misconduct by the Church.
The program is run independently from the Church. Resolution administrators, through an independent oversight committee, will handle every case and determine eligibility for participation.
The Warning Signs of Child Sex Abuse
Early warning signs are not always visible that a predator priest is abusing their power of authority over a child to engage in sexual activities. One of the more difficult things that any parent can discover is that a member of the clergy sexually harmed their loved one. Without a quick response, the abuse can continue, and the predator’s actions might lead to more dangerous behavior.
Inappropriate touching and non-touching activity that might involve child sex abuse include:
- Rubbing or fondling a child’s private parts or genitals
- Encouraging young people to participate in sexual activity that involves the anus, mouth, vagina, penis, tongue, or fingers.
- Showing a child pornographic images
- Taking photographs of young people in sexual poses
- An adult exposing his or her genitals to young people
- Watching children use the restroom or undress inappropriately
It is a serious felony in the State of California to download sexual images involving children and young people under eighteen years of age. The law indicates that viewing child sex abuse images is an act of molestation.
It is the responsibility of every family member, sibling, parent, neighbor, and friend to take immediate action and stop sexual abuse. First, law enforcement should be contacted to begin an investigation into any allegation involving child sex abuse. Second, the child must be removed from any situation that would involve contact with the alleged child molester and placed in a safe environment. Third, seek out a competent Orange county clergy abuse lawyer to begin the process of holding the Church and the predator legally accountable.
Diocese of Orange Clergy Sexual Abuse Attorneys Can Help
The United States Roman Catholic Church, under the guidance of Pope Francis, continues to face serious problems involving predator priests in the religious community. Many sexual assault victims have taken a stand, faced their molester, and filed civil lawsuits against the Church to hold their abusive clergy members accountable.
If you are a clergy abuse survivor harmed by a Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange Church leader, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can help. Contact us today at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a free, no-obligation case consultation. Let us hear your horrific story and discuss the best pathways to resolve your case an ensure you receive financial compensation for your damages.
A recent change in the California statute of limitations law now provides new opportunities for plaintiffs to file a claim against the Church. Complainants can file a civil case even if the California statute of limitations has expired since the abuse occurred. Our legal team handles Orange County, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles cases involving a religious child molester whose current status is in “active ministry,” has been removed from the priesthood, has retired, was placed on administrative leave, or has died.