Two parishioners sued the Catholic Diocese of San Diego and two priests, alleging the clergy sexually abused them as minors and the church covered it up, it was announced Thursday.
The San Diego Catholic Diocese knew the abuse was occurring, but failed to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the children and prevent further acts of molestation, according to the lawsuits.
A representative for the diocese, Bernadeane Carr, said diocese officials hadn’t yet seen the lawsuits filed Wednesday in San Diego Superior Court, and would probably comment once they had.
One plaintiff, Michael S., said the alleged abuse happened in 1977, when he was 16.
In his lawsuit, he claims he was awakened and sexually abused by Rev. John Joseph Daley while he and a friend sought refuge for a night at St. Joseph’s Church in Holtville.
The alleged abuse of Ralph S. occurred in 1971 when he was a 9-year-old altar boy at St. Mary’s Church in El Centro.
He alleges that Rev. George Lally arranged to be alone with him, ostensibly to practice altar service, them sexually molested him.
According to the suits, the Catholic diocese failed to pass along reports of sexual abuse to law enforcement, hid documents and allowed priests to remain in positions of authority instead of heeding National Conference of Catholic Bishops warnings of steps to be taken to protect parishioners after proven sexual abuse by priests.
Last Friday, the Diocese of San Diego disclosed that a now-retired priest admitted molesting three children when he was in active ministry, and said it is possible more alleged victims will be discovered.
Three men recently came forward and said they were sexually abused as children by Monsignor Rudolph Galindo, who retired in 1986, Bishop Robert Brom wrote in a letter to local Catholics.
In the past several weeks, Brom investigated the allegations and met with Galindo, “who admitted that they were true, accepting at the same time full responsibility for his conduct,” Brom wrote.
The diocese did not disclose where Galindo had been assigned or when the admitted abuse occurred, citing victim confidentiality concerns.
A national scandal involving sexual abuse by Catholic priests came to light in January.
In June, the San Diego diocese turned over information on abuse allegations against 23 priests, most reported by adults allegedly abused as children. The bulk of the cases were reported to the San Diego District Attorney’s Office, with five reported to the Imperial County District Attorney’s Office.
Brom sought to assure Catholics that he knows of no priests in active ministry who have sexually abused minors.
He said that in the “rare situations” when there has been abuse, the church “acted promptly to keep children and young people from risk and to reach out with pastoral concern and care to victims and their families.”