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Woman Says In SB Lawsuit Local Priest Molested Her

Feb 11, 2003 | San Bernardino County Sun A now-deceased priest has been accused of molesting a 13-year-old girl at St. Anthony Parish in San Bernardino more than 40 years ago.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in San Bernardino Superior Court against the dioceses of San Diego and San Bernardino, a Southern California woman only identified as Jane Doe says her mother reported the abuse to church authorities, but the priest was never removed from the parish.

The Rev. Franz Robier, who died April 22, 1994, at age 82, is accused of molesting the girl for several months in 1959-60 when he was about 47 years old.

Robier retired in 1983.

The San Bernardino Diocese, which covers San Bernardino and Riverside counties, was formed in 1978, nearly 20 years after the purported incident occurred. At the time, St. Anthony, in the 1600 block of Western Avenue, was overseen by the San Diego Diocese.

"We are aware of others that were approached by Robier in addition to our client,' said Beverly Hills-based attorney Anthony DeMarco. "We are also aware of at least one other person who has accused Robier of childhood sexual abuse.'

Attorney Raymond Boucher, who filed the lawsuit, said he would attempt to seek any money he could from Robier's estate.

A spokeswoman for the San Diego Diocese could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

The Rev. Howard Lincoln, spokesman for the San Bernardino Diocese, said he could not comment on the lawsuit because the diocese had not yet been served with it.

But Robier's name was turned over to the San Bernardino Police Department as one of the 20 priests against whom molestation allegations were made after a review of diocesan files in March.

The lawsuit was filed under new statutes of limitations that took effect on Jan. 1. The new law allows adult victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue the church until Dec. 31.

Last week, the San Bernardino Diocese was informed by the Franciscan Conventional Friars that the Rev. Gregory J. Kareta was charged with felonious conduct with a minor in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

Kareta, 79, worked at two parishes in Riverside Queen of Angels and St. Thomas the Apostle Church from 1978 to the early 1980s.

The charges against Kareta involve allegations that date back to 1964 when Kareta worked at parishes in Pismo Beach and Hermosa Beach.

Lincoln said there were no molestation allegations against Kareta while he worked in the San Bernardino Diocese.

"There is nothing in our files to indicate any allegations whatsoever,' Lincoln said.

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