Fr. Philip Sunseri – Diocese of Sacramento

| Jun 16, 2020 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Father Philip Sunseri

Diocese of Sacramento/Jesuit

Ordained: 1986

Laicized: 1988

Assignment History:

  • 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 Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Father Philip Sunseri:

In October 2018, Fr. 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 Sunseri sexually abused children were reported. The alleged abuse occurred in 1986 in San Jose at St. Christopher Parish and at the Holy Family Parish in 1987. He denied the allegations and dismissed them as a “misunderstanding”.

According to media reports, 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 of some other sort of massage that was much more intimate.” The alleged victim said he and 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”.  A local news station contacted Sunseri by text message in 2018 to inquire about allegations that he had massaged two teenage boys, Sunseri responded that he had apologized to the boys and their families and “felt blindsided” by the inclusion of his name on the list released by the Diocese of San Jose.

Sunseri was dismissed as a priest after the first allegation against him in 1986. In 1988, 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.

Sunseri is also included on the Jesuits West Province list of Jesuits with credible claims of sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult. In addition, he is named on the Diocese of Phoenix list.

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 Sacramento 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 Sacramento now have legal options due to a temporary change in the 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.