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Clergy Abuse in California

The Catholic Dioceses in California named more than 500 priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse. Lawmakers recently passed a law aimed at helping child abuse victims seek justice for these crimes.

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California Sexual Assault Legislation

The United States has recently become aware of widespread sexual abuse in national organizations like the Catholic Church. As a result, California and several other states have passed new sexual assault and sexual abuse laws. These legislative updates provide sexual abuse victims with more opportunities to seek justice.

California Legislation Affecting Sexual Abuse Victims

California legislators passed an important new law in late 2019. Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218) extends the period in which childhood sexual assault victims can file civil lawsuits. The bill, also known as the California Child Victims Act, includes several other important provisions:

  • AB 218 extends the legal deadline for childhood sexual assault survivors. They now have until the age of 40 to file a lawsuit. Survivors may also file a lawsuit up to five years after the discovery of psychological injury due to the abuse.
  • It allows adults who have recently discovered their abuse five years to file a lawsuit.
  • It establishes a three-year “look back” window in which survivors can file claims falling outside the new time limit. The window opens January 1, 2020, and closes December 31, 2022.
  • It allows courts to award triple damages in sexual abuse cases where evidence of a cover-up exists.

California Priest Abuse Lawsuits

Survivors of childhood sexual assault can seek legal remedies in two ways. They can file criminal charges and/or a civil lawsuit.

What Is The Difference Between Criminal Charges and Civil Clergy Abuse Lawsuits?

In the case of criminal charges, the defendant (abuser) faces probation or jail time if found guilty. The plaintiff (victim) does not receive money unless the court orders the abuser to pay restitution.

In a civil lawsuit, the defendant is not put on probation or sent to jail if found guilty. Instead, the defendant must pay the victim for damages caused by the abuse. The jury determines the appropriate amount of financial compensation.

Note: a survivor can choose to press criminal charges and file a civil lawsuit.

Whether pressing criminal charges or filing a civil lawsuit, the survivor must begin legal proceedings within a set period of time. This time period is called the statute of limitations (SOL).

California Clergy Abuse Statutes of Limitations

SOLs dictate the amount of time allowed between the perpetration of a crime and the filing of criminal charges or a civil lawsuit related to that crime. SOLs vary based on the type of crime and are set by state lawmakers.

Survivors often take many years to process the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. As a result, legal deadlines prevented many California abuse survivors from pursuing legal remedies. With the passage of AB 218 in 2019, childhood sexual assault survivors now have more time to file civil lawsuits in California. The accordion below summarizes California legal deadlines relevant to survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

California Sexual Assault Statute of Limitations

Criminal Charges
  • Most felony-level offenses have no statute of limitations.
  • For sex crimes, charges must be filed within one year of suspect identification via DNA evidence.
  • Learn more about SOLs for specific felony-level offenses here.
Civil Lawsuits
  • If the assault happened on or after the victim’s 18th birthday, the victim has until the later of:
    • 10  years from the date of the last assault
      or
    • Three years from the date the victim becomes aware of the psychological injury from the assault
  • If the victim was a minor at the time of the assault, they have until the later of:
    • The victim’s 40th birthday
      or
    • Five years from the date the victim becomes aware of the psychological injury from the assault

Understanding The California Child Victim’s Act “Look-Back” Window

AB 218’s extension of the legal deadlines for childhood sexual abuse gave survivors until their 40th birthday to file a civil lawsuit. But, without special provisions, this new legal deadline would still prevent survivors older than 40 years of age from filing civil lawsuits. State lawmakers created the “look back” window provision of AB 218 to address this issue.

AB 218 opens a window from January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2022. Any child sex abuse survivor can file a lawsuit during this period, even if the new statute of limitations has already passed.

California Diocese Settlements and Compensation Programs

Since 2005, California dioceses have paid more than $1 billion in settlements due to clergy abuse. These settlements came as a result of civil lawsuits. Additionally, six California dioceses created an option for victims to get compensation without filing a lawsuit. The six dioceses created an Independent Compensation Program (ICP).

The California Catholic Independent Compensation Program

Six dioceses created the California ICP in 2019. Some critics call the ICP a “very calculated and very shrewd” move on behalf of church officials. They also claim the ICP allows dioceses to avoid public scrutiny and cut the cost of reparations for clergy abuse.

Still, the ICP provides an attractive option for some clergy abuse survivors.

The California Independent Compensation Program at a Glance

As of February 29, 2020, the California ICP is no longer accepting new registrants.  Survivors who have already registered can file claims until March 31, 2020.

Participating Dioceses: 

  • Archdiocese of Los Angeles
  • Diocese of Fresno
  • Diocese of Orange
  • Diocese of Sacramento
  • Diocese of San Bernardino
  • Diocese of San Diego

Eligibility:

Survivors of clergy abuse within the participating dioceses are eligible for the ICP. Eligible claimants must not have previously settled clergy abuse lawsuits against the participating dioceses.

Important Dates:

Start Date:  September 16, 2019

Registration Deadline: February 29, 2020

Claims Filing Deadline: March 31, 2020

For some victims, the ICP offers several important benefits:

  • An independent law firm handles all ICP claims. The dioceses cannot reject or modify any claims settled through the ICP.
  • Clergy abuse survivors can avoid the public display of a lawsuit. The ICP allows claimants to remain completely anonymous throughout the process.
  • Claims made through the ICP may be held to a lower standard of proof versus claims in a lawsuit.
  • The ICP usually pays claims within 120 days of approval.

Critics of the program observe several drawbacks:

  • ICP participants waive their right to future clergy abuse lawsuits against participating dioceses.
  • ICP settlements offer substantially lower compensation versus the average lawsuit settlement.
    ICP settlements allow the Catholic Church to avoid the scrutiny and transparency of a lawsuit.
  • Any victim of abuse by “a member of a religious order, clergy of another diocese or lay person” is not eligible to participate. These victims can still file a lawsuit anytime before their 40th birthday. Victims older than 40 can file a lawsuit anytime before December 31, 2022.

California Catholic Diocese Clergy Abuse Bankruptcies

More than 20 Catholic dioceses nationwide have declared bankruptcy in the wake of clergy abuse lawsuits. Two California dioceses are among those that declared bankruptcy.

Diocese of San Diego | 2007

The Diocese of San Diego declared bankruptcy in February 2007. It was one of the earliest American dioceses to choose this option. The diocese agreed to pay $198 million to 144 victims as part of its bankruptcy proceedings.

Diocese of Stockton | 2014

The Diocese of Stockton filed for bankruptcy in September 2014. It agreed to pay $15 million to clergy abuse victims as part of the bankruptcy plan.

If you are considering legal action against a bankrupt diocese, you should speak with our lawyers. We can help you determine the best course of action during bankruptcy proceedings.

List of Priests Accused of Abuse in California

This list includes only clergy members and priests in California dioceses facing documented abuse allegations. The list does not include church staff, volunteers, members of religious orders or priests accused in other states. If you believe a specific abusive priest acted in a different state, use our searchable, nationwide database of accused priests.

If you do not see the name of the clergy member you are searching for, you may still have a legitimate claim against them. The list is updated as more information comes to light.

If you or a loved one has been abused by a clergy member in California, please feel free to contact us about your legal rights. Whether the abuser is on this list or not, we are here to help.


There are 326 accused clergy members from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, CA:













California Clergy Abuse Victim Resources

With or without compensation, survivors do not have to process sexual assault alone. Many California organizations offer resources for sexual abuse survivors.

California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA)

CALCASA is a statewide organization dedicated to ending sexual violence. It provides numerous resources for survivors of sexual assault.

California Sexual Violence Programs by City

CityFacility NamePhone Number(s)
BakersfieldAlliance Against Family Violence & Sexual AssaultHotline: 661-327-1091
LGBTQ-Focused Hotline: 661-332-1506
Toll-Free Hotline: 800-273-7713
OaklandBay Area Women Against RapeHotline: 510-845-7273
MariposaMountain Crisis Services of Mariposa CountyHotline: 888-966-2350
Hotline: 209-966-2350
MercedValley Crisis Center of Merced CountyHotline: 209-722-4357  
Hotline: 209-725-7900
HemetCenter Against Sexual Assault of Southwest Riverside CountyHotline: 866-373-8300
Yuba CityCasa de EsperanzaHotline: 530-674-2040
San Diego
El Cajon
Escondido
Center for Community SolutionsHotline: 888-385-4657
SonoraCenter for Non-Violent CommunityHotline: 209-533-3401
PlacervilleCenter for Violence-Free RelationshipsHotline: 530-626-1131 
Hotline: 916-939-6616
Los AngelesCenter for Pacific Asian FamilyHotline: 800-339-3940
OxnardCoalition for Family HarmonyHotline: 805-656-1111
Hotline: 800-300-2181
WoodlandEmpower YoloHotline: 530-662-1133
Hotline: 916-371-1907
Modesto
Turlock
Haven Women's Center of StanislausHotline: 209-577-5980 
Hotline: 888-454-2836
VisaliaFamily Services of Tulare CountyHotline: 559-732-7273
OaklandHighland Hospital Sexual Assault Center, Alameda Health SystemHotline: 510-534-9290
Hotline: 510-534-9291
WeavervilleHuman Response NetworkHotline: 530-623-4357
HanfordKings Community Action OrganizationHotline: 877-727-3225
JamestownKene Me-Wu — American Indian Domestic Violence / Sexual Assault ProgramHotline: 800-792-7776
Kelseyville
Lakeport
Clearlake
Lake Family Resource CenterHotline: 888-485-7733
SusanvilleLassen Family ServicesHotline: 530-257-5004
Hotline: 888-289-5004
Markleeville
South Lake Tahoe
Live Violence FreeHotline: 530-544-4444
AlturasModoc Crisis Center, Training, Employment and Community Help (T.E.A.C.H.)Hotline: 855-855-6745
Watsonville
Santa Cruz
Monarch ServicesHotline: 888-900-4232
NapaNapa Emergency Women's ServicesHotline: 707-255-6397  
Hotline: 800-799-7233
MontereyMonterey County Rape Crisis CenterHotline: 831-375-4357
SalinasMonterey County Rape Crisis CenterHotline: 838-424-4357
EurekaNorth Coast Rape Crisis TeamHotline: 707-445-2881
Crescent CityNorth Coast Rape Crisis TeamHotline: 707-465-2851
Lompoc
Santa Maria
North County Rape Crisis and Child Protection CenterHotline: 805-736-7273 
Hotline: 805-928-3554
ReddingOne SAFE PlaceHotline:
530-244-0117 — Shasta
530-474-1910 — Shingletown
JacksonOperation CareHotline: 209-223-2600
Los AngelesPeace Over ViolenceHotline: 213-626-3393 
Hotline: 310-392-8381
PasadenaPeace Over ViolenceHotline: 626-793-3385
PomonaProject Sister Family ServicesHotline: 909-626-4357
Hotline: 626-966-4155
UkiahProject SanctuaryHotline: 707-463-4357
Fort BraggProject SanctuaryHotline: 707-964-4357
San Jose
Sunnyvale
Rape Crisis Department, YWCA of Silicon ValleyHotline: 408-287-3000 
Hotline: 650-493-7273
Chico
Red Bluff
Rape Crisis Intervention and PreventionHotline: 530-342-7273
Santa MonicaRape Treatment Center at UCLA Medical CenterHotline: 310-319-4000
San MateoRape Trauma Services of San Mateo CountyHotline: 650-692-7273
Fresno
Firebaugh
RCS Fresno — Rape Counseling ServicesHotline: 559-222-7273
San Luis Obispo
Paso Robles
RISEHotline: 855-886-7473
FairfieldSAFEQUEST SolanoHotline: 866-487-7233
RiversideRiverside Area Rape Crisis CenterHotline: 951-686-7273
Hotline: 866-686-7273
San Bernardino
Palm Desert
Victorville
Yucaipa
Yucca Valley
San Bernardino Sexual Assault ServicesHotline: 909-885-8884
Hotline: 800-656-4673
San FranciscoSan Francisco Women Against RapeHotline: 415-647-7273
Santa BarbaraSanta Barbara Rape Crisis CenterHotline: 805-564-3696
LancasterSexual Assault Response Services, Valley OasisHotline: 661-723-7273
Santa AnaSexual Assault Victim Services, Community Service ProgramHotline: 714-957-2737
Hotline: 949-831-9110
Auburn
Roseville
Stand Up PlacerHotline: 800-575-5352
YrekaSiskiyou Domestic Violence & Crisis CenterHotline: 877-842-4068
Van Nuys
Northridge
Santa Clarita
Valencia
Strength UnitedHotline: 
818-886-0453 — San Fernando Valley
661-253-0258 — Santa Clarita Valley
QuincyThe Resource CenterHotline: 530-215-7273
Hotline: 877-332-2754
Kings Beach
Truckee
Tahoe Safe AllianceHotline: 800-736-1060
San AndreasThe Resource Connection, Calaveras Crisis CenterHotline: 209-736-4011
LivermoreTri-Valley HavenHotline: 800-884-8119
Hotline: 925-449-5842
Madera
Bass Lake
Victim Services Center, Community Action Partnership of Madera CountyHotline: 800-355-8989
Santa RosaVerityHotline: 707-545-7273
PomonaViolence Prevention & Women's Resource Center, California State University, PomonaHotline: 909-869-3102
SacramentoWEAVE, Inc.Hotline: 916-920-2952
Hotline: 866-920-2952
Stockton
Lodi
Tracy
Women's Center — Youth & Family ServicesHotline: 209-465-4997
Bishop
Mammoth Lakes
Wild Iris Family Counseling and Crisis ServicesHotline: 877-873-7384
OceansideWomen's Resource CenterHotline: 760-757-3500
Los Angeles
Long Beach
Compton
YWCA of Greater Los Angeles CountyHotline: 877-943-5778
Source:California Coalition Against Sexual Assault

California Diocese Victims Assistance Programs

The archdioceses in California offer resources to survivors of clergy abuse. The victim-assistance programs help connect abuse victims with counseling and other support services. Contact information for each program is found below.

Archdiocese of Los Angeles | Office of Victims Assistance Ministry
Phone Number: 800-355-2545
Victim Assistance Coordinator:
Dr. Heather Banis, PhD | 213-637-7650 | [email protected]

Archdiocese of San Francisco | Office of Child and Youth Protection
Phone Number: 415-614-5506
Victim Assistance Coordinator:
Rocio Rodriguez, LMFT | [email protected]

California Priest Abuse FAQs

How Do I Report Sexual Abuse by a Priest in California?

If you or the suspected victim are in immediate danger, call the police. 

To report sexual abuse of a minor:

Call the appropriate California County Emergency Response Child Abuse Reporting Hotline. You can find the correct hotline for your county here.

To report any sexual abuse:

Call your local law enforcement agency.

For more information about reporting sexual abuse, visit our resource page >

Is There Help for Someone Who Was Sexually Abused By a Priest in California?

Yes. There are many resources available to survivors of priest abuse. You can find many of them here.

Do I Have to Currently Live in California to File a California Clergy Abuse Lawsuit?

No. A plaintiff does not have to live in California to file a lawsuit in California. But the case must have some connection to California. The following connections would allow a non-California resident to file a lawsuit in the state:

  • The abuse occurred in California.
  • The responsible institution is headquartered in California.

Who Can File on Behalf of a Victim?

A clergy abuse survivor’s estate may file a lawsuit on behalf of the victim. Also, any individual with legal authority can file a lawsuit for the victim. Parents, legal guardians and conservators all have the legal authority to file on behalf of their dependents.

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