Father Philip Sunseri
Diocese of Phoenix / Jesuit
Assigned as follows:
- St. Christopher Parish (San Jose, CA)
- Holy Family (San Jose, CA)
- Most Holy Trinity Parish (San Jose, CA)
- Brophy College Preparatory (Phoenix, AZ)
- Jesuit Community at Fordham University (New York City, NY)
Summary of Abuse Allegations against Father Philip Sunseri:
According to media reports, in October 2018, Father Philip Sunseri was first named publicly as accused on the Diocese of San Jose list of clergy with credible allegations of sexual abuse of children.
In 1987 and 2018, allegations that Father Sunseri sexually abused children were reported. The alleged abuse occurred in 1986 at St. Christopher Parish, and while he was assigned to the Holy Family Parish in 1987. He denied the allegations and dismissed them as a “misunderstanding.”
One accuser, who was a 14-year old altar boy in 1987, said he wanted to set the record straight and encourage other abuse survivors to come forward.
“In the news last evening [Father Sunseri] was talking about how it was just a back massage,” he said. “There was no back massaging at all involved in it. The only way I know how to describe it is it was this weird other sort of massage that was much more intimate.”
The alleged victim said he and Father Sunseri simultaneously massaged each other, naked except for their underwear.
“I woke up that morning to him – he was rubbing my arm just kind of staring at me,” he said. “That was the most vivid, unsettling memory of it all.”
“I fear when he gets on the news and talks about this as if it was a non-sexual experience, those men who have not come forward are going to be discouraged from coming forward because their experience has been diminished, has been mischaracterized by him.”
Father Sunseri was dismissed as a priest after the first allegation against him in 1986.
In 1988, Father Sunseri was permanently banned from ministry. He said he retired from the priesthood to take care of his ailing mother, and said he didn’t know he’d been dismissed as a priest.
He currently lives in San Jose.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Phoenix. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Phoenix, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Phoenix now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims. Call us at 888-283-9922 or send an email to [email protected] to discuss your options today.