Fr. James Bretl – Diocese of Phoenix

| Mar 28, 2020 | Catholic Church, Sex

Fr. James Bretl

Diocese of Phoenix


Ordained: 1965

Retired: 2006

Died: 2010

Assigned as Follows:

  • St. Theresa Church (Carson City, NV)
  • Chaplain at Arizona State Mental Hospital (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Director of Pastoral Care (Various locations in the Midwest)
  • St. Catherine Catholic Church (McMinneville, TN)
  • St. Gregory Catholic Church (Smithville, TN)
  • St. Mark’s Catholic School (Phoenix, AZ)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father James Bretl:

According to media reports, In February of 2020, two new lawsuits were filed by two children who were sexually abused by Catholic priests. The alleged abuse occured almost 40 years prior in an Arizona Catholic parish, and the victims also claimed that the Diocese of Phoenix covered up the problem. According to the press conference that released the lawsuits, the alleged abuse dates back to the late 1970’s or early 1980’s. 

One of the lawsuits was filed by a woman who alleged that Father Donald R. Verhagen and Father James Bretl sexually abused her in the same parish, around the same time period. She was under the age of 15 when the alleged abuse started. She did not want to share her real name, and is labeled as Jane Doe in the suit. Vergaen died in 2001, and Bretl died in 2010. Both of the priests were affiliated with the Society of the Divine Savior USA Province, a religious order based in Milwaukee that is also known as the Salvatorians. They were also both assigned to St. Mark’s Catholic School in Phoenix during the 1970’s and 1980’s. 

The Phoenix diocese declined to comment on the specific allegations in both lawsuits, but did say in a statement that both Verhagen and Bretl had no prior allegations brought against them. They also released a statement that they are working in close cooperation with law enforcement, and will review the allegations against the two former-priests. No further information has been released. 

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Arizona, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims. Contact us at (954) 641-2100 (or toll-free at 888-283-9922). Email us at [email protected]