Fr. Michael Pecharich – Diocese of Orange

On Behalf of | Sep 9, 2019 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Father Michael Pecharich

Diocese of Orange

Ordained: 1973

Removed: 2002

Laicized: Unknown

Assigned as follows:

  • 1974-1976      St. Bridget of Sweden Church (Van Nuys, CA)
  • 1977-1979      St. Edward Church (Dana Point, CA)
  • 1980-1983      San Antonio del Canon Church (Anaheim, CA)
  • 1984-1989      St. Juliana Falconieri Church (Fullerton, CA)
  • 1990-2002      San Francisco Solano Church (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA)

Summary of Abuse Allegations against Father Michael Pecharich:

According to media reports, Father Michael Pecharich was accused of inappropriate conduct with four boys, some of whom accused him of sexual misconduct from 1974 to 1984. He has been named in at least one civil lawsuit and is on the list of priests accused of sexual misconduct released by the Diocese of Orange.

According to Father Pecharich’s file, there were several other allegations of inappropriate conduct. In 1993, a woman had complained to Monsignor Urell in a letter that, while at St. Bridget of Sweden in Van Nuys sometime before 1976, had hugged her son too long. She also reported that other boys said the priest had invited them to sleep in his bed.

According to his notes from the meeting, Monsignor Urell said he needed to interview her son to verify the complaint. The meeting apparently never happened, and Monsignor Urell wrote that he would not confront the priest because he had no direct complaint, nor were “any actions alleged.”

In August 1995, a Jesuit seminarian told Monsignor Urell in a letter and at a meeting, also attended by Father Pecharich that when he was 15 or 16 years old, Father Pecharich had locked him in a counseling room at San Antonio de Padua Catholic Church in Anaheim and given him five-minute hugs and kisses.

The next year, another woman wrote to complain that Father Pecharich had pulled hair from her son’s leg and told him to put it on his chest. She also wrote that she saw Father Pecharich put his hands inside a boy’s pockets, telling the boy he needed to go to the “butt store” and to get “more hips.”

In August 1996, a man told then Bishop McFarland and Monsignor Urell that Father Pecharich had grabbed his penis and repeatedly molested him 12 years earlier, on a camping trip, while skiing, at the rectory and in a Wrightwood cabin. Monsignor Urell’s notes quoted the victim as saying, “I’m glad to hear that [Pecharich] said yes—said he was sorry.”

Later that year, Father Pecharich admitted to Bishop McFarland that he had sexually abused a teenage boy 19 years before. A therapist report shows that Father Pecharich should be restricted to an adults-only ministry. However, he was still allowed to continue as founding pastor of San Francisco Solano Church in Rancho Santa Margarita, across the street from Santa Margarita High School. He remained in ministry until 2002 when he was forced to resign. It is believed Father Pecharich was laicized.

Father Pecharich was included in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ list of priests accused of sexual misconduct involving minors and was included in a press release issued by the Diocese of Orange in 2004 as a priest accused and removed from ministry.

According to a list maintained by Bishop, Father Pecharich was accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a 9-year-old boy at least five occasions from approximately 1977 to 1978. The alleged abuse took place while Father Pecharich was assigned to St. Edward the Confessor Church in Dana Point, California, and the boy was an altar boy at the church. The abuse occurred in the sacristy of the church. Father Pecharich reportedly gave the boy long, tight hugs, during which the priest rubbed his crotch against the boy’s stomach or the boy’s buttocks.

The claim settled in 2020.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Orange in California.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in one of California’s Catholic dioceses, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Orange now have legal options due to a temporary change in California law, but filing deadlines will apply so do not delay in reaching out to us.  Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in California and nationwide. We can help.

Contact us at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options today.