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San Bernardino Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyer

San-Bernardino-Clergy-Abuse-LawyersIn Catholicism, Cardinals, Bishops, Pastors, Parish priests, and other religious leaders strengthen the faith of the congregation through instruction and guidance. The Catholic community of believers looks to the Vatican papacy, guided by Pope Francis, to celebrate the sacraments and accept the teachings revealed by God. Unfortunately, many clergymen follow their personal failings and harm the innocent through child sex abuse and molestation.

Nearly two decades ago, the California Catholic Conference of Bishops in the United States committed to following a “zero-tolerance” for Catholic priests sexually assaulting minors. During that time, the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report illuminated the extent of the sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church in America. The grand jury investigation revealed severe problems that needed immediate attention.

Many Catholic dioceses throughout the United States, including in San Bernardino, Palm Springs, San Diego, Los Angeles, and the Diocese of Orange, hid their list of priests with credible allegations of child molestation away from parishioners. When the congregation finally became aware of the uniquely massive problem, most of the incidents occurred long in the past. However, sexual abuse among clergy remains an ongoing issue that requires church officials to take immediate action for the protection of innocent victims.

San Bernardino Diocese Sexual Assault Attorney

For years, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has served as a legal advocate for victims who were sexually assaulted by the San Bernardino religious community. With our comprehensive understanding of California tort law, our lawyers protect our client’s rights and personal privacy. If you were injured by a clergy member who sexually abused you recently or decades ago, let us discuss your case in a confidential setting so we can provide you legal options.

We understand the challenges you face standing up against the Roman Catholic Church. However, you will never stand there alone. Our law firm can assist you in beginning your healing process to set aside the abuse that occurred during a vulnerable time in your life. We can ensure that your case is resolved successfully to provide you financial compensation to move on and away from the pain.

List of Clergy Abusers in the Diocese of San Bernardino County

Ayala, Saul

Ordained: 1971

In June 2002, a woman filed an allegation of sexual harassment with San Bernardino Diocese church officials involving misconduct with a minor. The complaint charging Father Saul Ayala with inappropriate sexual behavior resulted in his being placed on leave. In 2002, two related females filed a civil lawsuit that alleged Ayala had sexually molested them between 1988 and 1989. At the time of the alleged sexual molestation, the victims were ages seven and nine while the priest was babysitting the two young girls. The Diocese of San Bernardino resolved the lawsuit through an out of court settlement in 2004 for $30,000. Reverend Ayala relocated to Mexico after being placed on leave and is likely still in active ministry. The priest’s name remains on the 2018 Diocese of San Bernardino’s list.

Current Status: Accused

Ball, Edward Lawrence

Ordained: 1966

In September 1992, the Justice Department indicted Father Edward Lawrence Ball on four counts of sexual molestation involving a minor. Reverend Ball pled guilty to a single count and received a nine-month jail sentence and five years of probation in cases involving three victims. In 1994, the family of two victims resolved their civil matter with the Diocese of San Bernardino and priest in a negotiated out-of-court settlement. In 1999, law enforcement charged Ball with a criminal offense involving thirty-one counts of sexual molestation involving two other boys. These incidents allegedly occurred between 1979 and 1986. The Court system sentenced Reverend Ball to three years in prison. In 2003, the Reverend’s Order and the San Bernardino Diocese settled cases involving the priest for $4.2 million. The Court system ordered Ball to register as a sex offender.

Current Status: Deceased

Barco, Roberto

Ordained: 1983

In 2009, the San Bernardino Diocese assigned Father Roberto Barco to the Colton, CA San Salvador Parish, and reassigned him to the Cathedral City, CA St. Louis Parish, from 2011 through 2014. Reverend Barco had previously ministered at the Diocese of Chascomus in Argentina before relocating to the United States. In April 2016, victims accused the priest of child sexual molestation that occurred between 2009 and 2010. Law enforcement filed a report involving the allegations while he was ministering at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Church officials removed Reverend Barco in May 2016 when he returned to Argentina.

Current Status: Accused 2016

Bell, Joseph

Ordained: 1961

The Diocese of San Bernardino publicly exposed Father Joseph Bell’s credible accusation of sexually assaulting innocent victims.   The 2018 San Bernardino Diocese list revealed Bell’s name along with religious leaders accused of sexually abusing  children and adults. between 1985 and 1986, Reverend Bell ministered parishioners at Alta Loma St. Peter and Paul Parish. In 1985, church officials first became aware of the accusations of sexual misconduct involving the priestin incidents occurring in the 1960s and 1970s. The cases of abuse were reported to have occurred in New York, Kentucky, and Indiana.   

Current Status: Died 1987

Benson, Gustavo

Ordained: 1972

San Bernardino law enforcement arrested Father Gustavo Benson on charges that he sexually assaulted two underage boys in January 1987. Reverend Benson pled no contest to one of the allegations. The judge sentenced the priest to three years of probation. He received treatment in New Mexico. An article published in 2002 claimed that Father Benson had relocated to Mexico and was assigned to a local Parish. The San Bernardino Bishop told the Bishop of the Tijuana Diocese that the priest had a history of sexual misconduct and should never be allowed access to minors. In 2003, plaintiffs claiming the priest’s sexual misconduct filed two civil lawsuits. In 2007, the Reverend’s name remained on the Diocese of San Diego’s list as an active minister in Ensenada, Mexico.

Current Status: Arrested and convicted

Bucaro, Michael

Ordained: 1980

In 2004, a male victim alleged that Father Michael Bucaro had sexually assaulted him in the Corona, CA St. Matthew’s Church and while he was in San Diego during the 1980s. Both the San Bernardino Diocese and the San Diego Diocese are named in the lawsuit, as is the priest’s former Order, the Milwaukee Archdiocese, and the Congregation of Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Church officials at the San Bernardino Diocese denied that they were aware of any past complaint involving Bucaro, who, since 1983, was assigned in prison ministry. In 2005, the Reverend filed a countersuit charging slander against the plaintiffs. In 2008, the plaintiff’s attorneys negotiated an out of court settlement.

Current Status: Named in a lawsuit settlement

Castillo, Alejandro Jose Alex

Ordained: 1981

In June 2010, Church officials removed Father Alejandro Jose Alex Castillo from ministry while he was serving at the Ontario, CA, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. The Church had received allegations that Reverend Castille had sexually assaulted two brothers just a few years before. In September 2010, the Church’s Review Board found that the accusations against the priest were credible. The Reverend had already faced prior complaints involving one youth and two adults. However, law enforcement never arrested the Reverend on those charges because the California statute of limitations had expired. In October 2010, law enforcement did arrest the Reverend on new charges of lewd acts involving an underage child. In April 2011, the priest received a one-year jail sentence after pleading guilty. The court required Alejandro to register as a sex offender. The California Corrections Department released Father Alejandro Castillo in April 2012. However, the following month, he was rearrested for violating his probation. In September 2011, two victims filed lawsuits that were settled three years later for $3.8 million. In 2012, a third victim filed a lawsuit. The priest remains on the 2018 San Bernardino Diocese’s list.

Current Status: Arrested, Convicted, Released, Rearrested

Covas, Peter

Ordained: 1957

In April 2002, Father Peter Covas retired from his Parish after being accused of sexually inappropriate behavior with underage children. In 1983, Reverend Covas resigned from the ministry as the San Bernardino Diocese Financial Director. His resignation came after he loaned $225,000 belonging to the Diocese of San Bernardino, giving the funds to an adult male who had a fraud conviction. An internal review of files conducted in the San Bernardino Diocese revealed sexual allegations. In 1987 and 1988, law enforcement arrested Reverend Covas on charges of public sexual misconduct.

Current Status: Died 2004

da Silva, Owen

Ordained: Prior to 1936

In 2004, an adult male filed a civil lawsuit against Father Owen da Silva, amending his pleading. The male alleges that Reverend da Silva, along with thirty other religious leaders, had sexually assaulted underage children at Saint Anthony’s Seminary and in Santa Barbara, California. The documents named the Reverend as a child sexual abuse predator, revealing da Silva sexually molested an altar boy between 1936 and 1937 at Saint Anthony’s. Nearly every priest identified in the civil lawsuit pleading belongs to the Franciscan Order. Father Owen da Silva’s name appears on the 2019 Santa Barbara Province Franciscans’ list and the 2019 Diocese of Las Cruce’s list, where he had been assigned between 1957 and 1964.

Current Status: Died 1967

De Dominicis, Daniel

Ordained: Prior to 1951

In 2018, the Diocese of San Bernardino publicly exposed Father Daniel De Dominicis’s credible accusation of sexually assaulting innocent victims. In August 1994, the San Bernardino Diocese became aware of allegations of Reverend De Dominicis participating in inappropriate sexual behavior in incidents that happened between 1975 and 1985. From 1958 through 1968, Church officials assigned Reverend De Dominicis to Notre Dame High School. From 1976 and 1978, he served at the Hemet Our Lady of the Valley Parish. In 1978 Father Daniel De Dominicis left the Diocese of San Bernardino.

Current Status: Deceased

Dominguez, Jesus

Ordained: 1983

The 2004 Los Angeles Archdiocese list identified Father Jesus Dominguez along with other priests who had been credibly accused of sexually assaulting innocent victims. The list reveals that Reverend Dominguez has six accusers claiming he engaged in sexually abusing them between 1973 and 1988. Between 1978 and 1993, the priest served parishioners at the Diocese of San Bernardino. Church officials placed the Reverend on leave. In 2001, the priest pled no contest to misdemeanor child molestation, one year after the Vatican laicized (defrocked) him from the priesthood. In 2005, law enforcement charged Father Dominguez with sexually assaulting two underage males between 1988 and 1989. The priest fled to Mexico to avoid the arrest. Six adult male filed civil lawsuits. Church documents reveal that the Diocese became aware of the Reverend’s inappropriate sexual behavior as far back as 1988 involving incidents that occurred between 1983 and 1988.

Current Status: Convicted and Laicized

Donat, Robert J.

Ordained: 1966

Between 1966 and 1969, Father Robert J. Donat was assigned to the Diocese of San Diego. Between 1969 and 1993, Donat taught at the San Bernardino Aquinas High School. As a reassignment, he was transferred to the Montclair, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, where he served as the Parish pastor until 2006. Afterward, he relocated to Los Angeles. In December 2010, the Diocese of San Bernardino first became aware of the allegations that Reverend Donat had sexually assaulted an Aquinas student back in 1973. Later, many more accusers came forward stated they had also been sexually assaulted by Father Donat. In August 2011, the Diocese Review Board found the allegations filed against the priest credible. Afterward, the Church removed his privileges. The Vatican ordered the Reverend to begin living a life of “prayer and penance.”

Current Status: Accused

Dunne, Kevin

In 1993, Brother Kevin Dunne and other religious leaders were accused of sexually molesting St Anthony Seminary students. Reports indicate that Brother Kevin Dunne was relocated to the Phoenix St. Mary’s Basilica working as the Order’s treasurer out of contact with minors. By 2007, he was residing in a Monterey, CA Retreat House. Church documents revealed a 1993 report of alleged sexual assault involving Brother Dunne with an underage child between 1970 and 1973. In 2002, accusations arose that the Brother sexually abused other victims in areas outside the Diocese of San Bernardino, Diocese of Santa Rosa, and Las Cruces Diocese in 1993. The Brother’s name is also found on the 2019 Las Cruces Diocese’s list, where he was assigned between 1955 and 1961.

Current Status: Died 2010

Etienne, Clifton Raymond

Ordained: 1979

A civil lawsuit document revealed allegations that Brother Clifton Raymond Etienne sexually assaulted victims when he was a Riverside Divine Word Seminarian religious Brother. In 1979, after his ordination, he was reassigned to Saint Anthony’s Parish and St. Patrick’s Parish in the Diocese of Oakland. The Reverend’s name appears on the Diocese of San Bernardino list and the San Diego Diocese’s list. Church officials released the priest’s personnel file in October 2010.

Current Status: Died 1998

Fertal, Joseph

Ordained: 1959

In 1989, Father Joseph Fertal left the Philippines because he was suspected of sexually abusing victims. By 1995, Reverend Fertal faced accusations of sexually molesting a sixteen-year-old catechism class boy. The following year, the victim filed a lawsuit that was later settled by the Diocese out of court. Law enforcement dropped the criminal investigation due to a lack of credible evidence. However, in 2002, Church officials forced Father Fertal into a retirement home in California after Church officials became aware of his past sexually inappropriate behavior. The Reverend received treatment for his problem numerous times. He was last known to be living in Chicago, Illinois.

Current Status: Part of the lawsuit settlement

Garduno, Anthony Martinez

Ordained: 1990

Father Anthony Martinez Garduno faced allegations by an adult male who stated that in 1991, the Reverend had asked him to strip while conducting premarital counseling. Church officials sent Reverend Garduno for treatment. In 1996, the Church charged the priest with heresy and removed him “from the clerical state” after he founded a Catholic sect. In December 2009, Reverend Garduno was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a minor child four years before, and for selling drugs from the Parish. The Reverend’s accuser told others that he knew of other underage victims who had been sexually molested at the Church. In March 2010, the court sentenced Father Garduno to two years in prison on gun and drug charges.

Current Status: Sentenced to two years in prison

Gil, Rudi

Ordained: 1978

In 1987, Father Rudi Gil was reassigned from Canada to the Diocese of San Bernardino. In 1993, Reverend Gil faced sexual misconduct allegations involving an underage boy in incidents that occurred in 1987. Church officials sent the priest to the Servants of the Paraclete Retreat in California to receive treatment for his “sexual identity issues.” During a counseling session, Reverend Gil admitted he had sexually molested a child. Believing the treatment was ineffective, Father Gil left the treatment facility two weeks later. Law enforcement did not file criminal charges. By 2002, church officials allow Gil to continue performing ministry services, although they had removed his privileges in 1993. Church documents reveal the law enforcement was informed of his sexual misconduct in 2002 and that the Reverend had been removed from the priesthood.

Current Status: Removed from the priesthood

Macouzet, Maximiliano Gomez

Ordained: 1946

Mexico-native Father Maximiliano Gomez Macouzet was ordained in 1946 in the Diocese of San Diego. The Reverend attended to his graduate studies between 1948 and 1951 in Rome before his assignment at the Diocese of San Bernardino in August 1953. In 1966, Reverend Macouzet left is Diocese in California for reassignment at the Mexican Diocese of Tlalnepantla in 1967. A year earlier, a lawsuit alleges that the priest assaulted an underage boy in 1962. In 1968, the victim received a $35,000 judgment. The Reverend’s name appears on the 2007 San Diego Diocese list of religious leaders with credible allegations of sexual misconduct.

Current Status: Possibly living in Mexico

Hayes, J. Ernest/Ernest J.

Ordained: 1961

The Diocese of San Bernardino publicly exposed Father J. Ernest/Ernest J. Hayes’s credible accusation of sexually assaulting innocent victims. The 2018 Diocese list contained notes that Church officials were aware as early as June 1987 of the allegations involving Father J. Ernest Hayes sexual misconduct that occurred between 1978 and 1983, and in a separate case between 1981 and 1987.

Current Status: Died 1990

Jablonski, Joseph

Ordained: 1976

In 2018, the Diocese of San Bernardino publicly exposed Father Joseph Jablonski’s credible accusation of sexually assaulting innocent victims. The allegations indicate that the abuse started in 2014. That year, the victim reported the case to both the San Bernardino Diocese and local law enforcement. The Diocese stated that Reverend Jablonski was a visiting priest and was not in active ministry with faculties in the Diocese.

Current Status: Accused of inappropriate sexual behavior

Jost, Dennis Raymond

Church officials removed Seminarian Dennis Raymond Jost from the California Deacon training program after years of working as a vocational coordinator to altar boys. In 1992, Reverend Jost’s name appeared in a civil lawsuit regarding the sexual molestation of an underage male. That same year, law enforcement arrested and charged Jost, claiming he had taken a minor from California to Arizona and New Mexico in 1990 to sexually abuse the child. After his conviction in 1993, he was sentenced to six months in jail followed by two years of probation. Afterward, he was reassigned between 1995 and 1997 at the Diocese of Dallas until Church officials uncovered allegations and convictions from his past. The San Diego Diocese released Jost’s personnel file in October 2010 that revealed previous convictions from the 1970s.

Current Status: Convicted of inappropriate sexual behavior with a minor

Keppel, Timothy F.

Ordained: 1977

In 2013, Father Timothy F. Keppel’s Order announced that they had removed the priest from active ministry after receiving a report in 2012 alleging his sexual misconduct involving an underage male. The molestation was alleged to have occurred during the late 1980s in the Diocese of San Bernardino. Although Reverend Keppel served parishioners in the Saint Anne’s in the Mountains Parish and Our Lady of the Lake Parish, the victim was not a member of either congregation. The San Bernardino Diocese investigated the allegation and found there was a reasonable cause that supported the accusation. The Church deemed that the priest’s inappropriate sexual behavior did happen. Officials referred Reverend Keppel’s case to the Vatican. Additionally, Father Keppel’s name appears on the 2018 Mobile, Alabama Archdiocese’s list with notations that “misconduct” happened between 1977 and 1981. During the Reverend’s career, he was assigned to the Montgomery Resurrection Parish.

Current Status: Accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with a minor

Kurilec, Robert

Ordained: 1968

In 2018, the Diocese of San Bernardino publicly exposed Father Robert Kurilec’s credible accusation of sexually assaulting innocent victims. The inappropriate sexual contact concerning Reverend Kurilec allegedly happened in Indiana, Illinois, and Maryland, in 1970 and 1972. Between 1980 and 1983, the priest was assigned to the Riverside, CA Notre Dame High School. The following year, he became a Navy chaplain. Church documents reveal that in 1987, the Diocese of San Bernardino became aware of the sexual abuse allegations that were reported to the US Navy (1988) and local law enforcement (2002). After a case review, the Vatican sentenced the Reverend Kurilec to a lifetime of prayer and penance.

Current Status: Living a life of prayer and penance

Luque, Peter H.

Ordained: 1962

In April 2002, Church officials placed Father Peter H. Luque on leave after an old allegation arose involving sexual molestation of an innocent victim. In April 2003, law enforcement criminally charged Reverend Luque with sexual abuse involving two underage males during the 1960s. In April 2002, the Diocese of San Bernardino turned over a list to law enforcement containing the names of twenty predatory priests, including Luque. In 2003, the US Supreme Court overruled California law, which forced the state courts to dismiss criminal charges against Father Luque. Afterward, other accusers stepped forward. In December 2003, a plaintiff filed a civil lawsuit against the Diocese and the priest.

Current Status: Named in a civil lawsuit

McCormick, Peter

Ordained: 1970

In October 2018, the Diocese of San Bernardino publicly exposed Father Peter McCormick’s credible accusation of sexually assaulting innocent victims. Between 1984 and 2000, Church officials assigned Reverend McCormick to the Sacred Hearts Parish. Father McCormick admitted that he had engaged in “sexual acts” with an underage minor while he was during that time. Church records indicate that McCormick sexually assaulted an underage male at a church near Los Angeles in 1990. At the time of the alleged assault, the victim was thirteen years old. The molestation occurred until the boy matured into adulthood. In 2000, Church officials received other accusations and removed the Reverend from ministry. Two years later, the Diocese of San Bernardino contacted local law enforcement officials to report the case.

Current Status: Accused of inappropriate sexual contact

Melzer, Howard

Ordained: 1958

In 2018, the Diocese of San Bernardino publicly exposed Father Howard Melzer’s credible accusation of sexually assaulting innocent victims. Church records indicated that the Diocese became aware of the accusations as early as October 1993 of incidents of sexual molestation involving the priest that occurred between 1976 and 1980. The allegations were reported to the Reverend’s Order. At the time of the alleged assault, Church officials had assigned Father Melzer to the Corona, CA St. Matthew’s Parish.

Current Status: Deceased

Nguyen, Paul

Ordained: 1980

After Vietnam-native Father Paul Nguyen was ordained in Oslo, Norway, he was assigned to Rome, Italy, in 1989 before his reassignment to the Diocese of San Bernardino in California. In September 1993, Reverend Nguyen resigned his position as pastor after allegations arose that he sexually assaulted an underage child in January 1993. Church officials placed Nguyen on leave. Law enforcement initiated an investigation that was soon stopped. The Church excardinated (transferred to another diocese) Reverend Nguyen to the Diocese of Helsinki in Finland. In 2003, he relocated to Sweden to work at the Vietnamese Mission before returning to Norway one year later. In 2005, he returned to the United States.

Current Status: Accused of sexual conduct with a child

Nunez, Joseph R.

Ordained: 1922

After Father Joseph R. Nunez’s ordination in Mexico, he relocated in 1926 to San Diego before returning to his homeland between 1929 and 1932. In 1937, Nunez was incardinated (assigned to a diocese) to the Diocese of San Diego. In December 2003, Reverend Nunez’s name appeared in a civil lawsuit filed by an adult male who accused the priest of sexually assaulting him in 1956 and 1957 while he was at the San Bernardino Catholic School. The victim was twelve years old at the time of the alleged assault. After the assault occurred, he discussed what happened to him with another priest who took no action. Reverend Nunez served in the Catholic Church for nearly four decades before his death in 1968.

Current Status: Died 1968

Perreault, Louis G.

Ordained: 1962

In 2018, the Diocese of San Bernardino publicly exposed Father Louis G. Perreault’s credible accusation of sexually assaulting an innocent victim. Church documents reveal that officials became aware in September 2011 of Reverend Perreault’s sexual misconduct that occurred between 1990 and 1992. At the time of the alleged assault, Church officials had assigned Father Perreault to the Hemet, CA Our Lady of the Valley Parish (1986 through 1995). In September 2011, the incident was reported to the police. In the early 2000s, Church officials allowed Perreault to retire without faculties. As of April 2019, Father Perreault’s name appears on the Diocese of Lake Charles, Louisiana list. In December 2019, an alleged victim filed a civil lawsuit using the California Child Victims Act. The plaintiff claims that Perreault had sexually molested him when he was a minor between the ages of thirteen and fifteen. These incidents allegedly occurred during the early 1990s.

Current Status: Deceased

Trujillo, Esteban

Mexican-native Father Esteban Trujillo served the Diocese of San Bernardino as an extern “visiting” priest starting in 2001. By 2002, Church officials removed Reverend Trujillo from the Diocese. The following month, in July 2002, the Reverend’s Order informed the Diocese of an internal investigation that cleared the priest of a past allegation of sexual misconduct. It is believed that Reverend Trujillo returned to Mexico. As of October 2018, Reverend Trio’s name appears on the San Bernardino Diocese list. Reports from the list indicate that the priest had no assignments or faculties at the Diocese or that he had been living in the area with family members. The abuse accusations allege that the sexual assault took place in 1998 and 2001 and Mexico.

Current Status: Accused of inappropriate sexual conduct

Walto, Bernard

Ordained: 1974

In 2018, the Diocese of San Bernardino publicly exposed Father Bernard Waltos’s credible accusation of sexually assaulting an innocent victim. At the time of the alleged assault, Church officials had assigned Reverend Walsh to the Riverside, CA Queen of Angels (1981 through 1991). The alleged sexual misconduct occurred between 1984 and 1990. San Bernardino Diocese Church officials said they were made aware of the accusations in 1994. However, in 1992, Reverend Michael Walsh’s name appeared in a civil lawsuit filed by the victim of convicted Reverend Dennis Jost.

Current Status: Died 1992

Newly Formed Independent Compensation Program Helps Child Sex Survivors

In 2019, the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino launched their Independent Compensation Program with other California dioceses, including the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Diocese of San Diego, Orange Diocese, and Dioceses of Fresno. The Independent Compensation Program (ICP) supports the Diocese of San Bernardino’s commitment to bring healing to victim-survivors of sexual abuse of minors.

The California Catholic Conference acknowledged its lack of transparency in exposing the Church’s sexual abuse crisis involving every survivor of clergy abuse. All dioceses failed to protect innocent victims from clergy with credible allegations of child abuse and created an unsafe environment for molestation survivors. For decades, church officials of all religious orders in California dioceses failed to release their list of priests accused of inappropriate sexual contact.

Many cases involving sexual misconduct and alleged abuse in local parishes before July 1978 occurred in a part of the Diocese of San Diego, before the formation of the Diocese of San Bernardino. Many victim-survivors of sexual abuse of minors are participating in the compensation program to obtain financial support and hear the apologies from the diocesan personnel and San Bernardino Bishop Barnes.

Since the launch of the compensation program, over 400 victim-survivors of sexual abuse of minors have come forward to register for compensation. Similar programs in New York and across the nation have paid victims an average of $200,000 to $2 million based on the severity of the crime.

Changes in the California Statute of Limitations Law

In the fall of 2019, California Governor Newsom signed the state legislators’ Assembly bill to extend the time limit previously restricted by the statute of limitations. Now, every survivor of sexual abuse harmed by clergy members in all California dioceses, including San Bernardino, San Diego, and Los Angeles, can file a civil action against the Church and predatory priest that caused them harm.

Previously, the sexual assault survivor gave up their legal rights to financial compensation through a civil lawsuit once they reach their twenty-six birthday if they had not already filed a claim. In many cases, the victim was too scared to speak up, lived in fear of retaliation, or was dealing with life challenges associated with the abuse. The survivor’s silence and the Roman Catholic Church’s cover-up helped hide the sexual abuse crisis while protecting the predatory priest at the expense of the victim.

Now, any victim of alleged abuse can take legal action by following the newly enacted law’s “three-year open-window” no matter when the abuse occurred. The window will remain open between January 1, 2020, and January 1, 2023. Afterward, any individual can file a civil lawsuit against the Church, Diocese of San Bernardino, diocesan personnel, Bishop Barnes, and clergy members until the victim reaches their fortieth birthday.

Diocese of San Bernardino Clergy Sexual Abuse Attorneys Can Help

For hundreds of years, the Roman Catholic Church has worked in secrecy, hiding evidence away from parishioners, law enforcement, and the public involving clergy sexual abuse. Only recently, under the guidance of Pope Francis, has the Church taken the initiative and expanded the opportunities to obtain compensation for victims of sexual abuse.

If you are a sexual assault survivor, harmed by a San Bernardino Diocese clergyman, Rosenfeld, injury Lawyers, LLC, can help. Contact our law firm today at (888) 424-57572 schedule a free, no-obligation case consultation. We can review the merits of your case in a confidential setting and provide numerous options on how to proceed.

Recent changes in California law have created new opportunities for injured victims to file a civil lawsuit against the Church and predator priest, even if the state’s statute of limitations has expired. We accept all cases involving clergy abusers with a current status of in “active ministry,” removed from the priesthood, visiting from another diocese, placed on administrative leave, in retirement, or deceased.

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