Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno

Christina Lopez / Valley Public Radio

A new lawsuit has been filed in Fresno County Superior Court against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno and two of its churches for negligence and sexual battery. Although the plaintiff reported abuse in 2002 and the priest was acquitted, a law that took effect this year means she can still seek damages.

The plaintiff is now 34 years old, and referred to as Jane Doe, since the alleged abuse took place when she was a minor. She says that Father Miguel Flores raped and threatened her in 2001 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church in Hanford where she worked. 

Christina Lopez

A Valley priest who has been the target of several sexual abuse allegations is suing the founder of a Catholic organization for defamation. 

According to the civil lawsuit, filed through Kern County Superior Court earlier this month, Stephen Brady, founder of Roman Catholic Faithful, made statements about Msgr. Craig Harrison that were “false, defamatory, libelous and slanderous.” 

 

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno has been under pressure the last few months to release its own list of priests who have been accused of sexual abuse. Although a list hasn’t been released yet, the diocese is rolling out a settlement program for survivors. Some attorneys who represent survivors find it to be strategic and controversial. 

 

 

 

This week on Valley Edition: we visit residents of a community surrounded by highways, agriculture fields, and oil and gas development. We learn about their grassroots efforts to find out whether those industries are polluting their air.

In Kern County, we look into the case of Supervisor Leticia Perez who faces two conflict of interest charges relating to her ties to the marijuana industry.  

We also speak to an author who knew the Marlboro Man; he was a real cowboy from the San Joaquin Valley.

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

A Reedley priest who was accused of sexual abuse by two women earlier this week was put on paid administrative leave Thursday, officials at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno confirmed.

 

Sylvia Gomez Ray, 52, spoke publicly about the alleged abuse she experienced in the 1980s from Msgr. John Esquivel on Monday in front of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Bakersfield. At the time, Gomez Ray was a secretary at St. Joseph’s.

Another priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno has been accused of sexual abuse and currently works at a church in Reedley.

 

At a press conference Monday, 52-year-old Sylvia Gomez Ray spoke about the alleged abuse she experienced as a teenager while working at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Bakersfield. She claims Msgr. John Esquivel sexually assaulted her after he groomed and recruited her to work as the church's secretary.

 

Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno

 

  One priest has been put on leave since a report was released last week by a Minnesota-based law firm listing 43 priests within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno who have been accused of sexual abuse or misconduct.

 

Father Eric Swearingen was put on paid administrative leave June 5, officials at the diocese confirmed Tuesday.

 

Christina Lopez / Valley Public Radio

There are at least 43 priests within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno who have been accused of sexual abuse or misconduct, according to a report released this week by a national law firm.

 

The data collected by Jeff Anderson & Associates exposes the "enormous magnitude" of the intentional cover-up of allegations of sexual abuse by the diocese.

 

Christina Lopez

Two people have accused a Bakersfield priest of sexual abuse, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno. The community’s response to the allegations is split between loyalty and fury.

 

But in the midst of the controversy, experts say alleged victims will continue to be silenced and refrain from coming forward.