Father Robert Van Handel
Archdiocese of Los Angeles (Franciscan)
Assigned as follows:
- 1975-1990: St. Anthony Seminary (Santa Barbara, CA); Santa Barbara Mission (Santa Barbara, CA)
- 1991-1992: Franciscan Friars Provincial House, Province of St. Barbara (Oakland, CA)
- 1992: St. Luke’s Institute (Suiteland, MD)
- 1994-1998: Prison
- 1988-2021: Unknown
Summary of Abuse Allegations against Father Robert Van Handel:
Father Robert Van Handel was ordained a Franciscan priest a priest in 1975, who served in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He was the director and founder of the Santa Barbara Boys’ Choir and a teacher at St. Anthony’s High School Seminary. According to media reports, he was one of dozens of priests and brothers who sexually abused boys from the 1960s through the 1990s at St. Anthony’s. He had himself been molested as a St. Anthony’s student.
His therapist wrote to the Court in 1994 that Father Van Handel likely molested 150 eight-to twelve-year-olds, including his own nephew, as director of the Santa Barbara Boys Choir. In his diary, confiscated in 1994 by police, he wrote that the Boys’ Choir provided a constant supply of attractive little boys.
The first allegation of child sexual abuse against Father Van Handel was made in 1992. He was removed from active ministry and sent to treatment at St. Luke’s Institute in Maryland. In 1994, he was criminally charged with abuse of students and sentenced to eight years in prison. He served only four years and was on parole for four years.
After his release in 1998, Father Van Handel moved to Santa Cruz, California, his last known location, where he was required to registered as a sex offender. He was laicized in 1997. His name appeared on the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ list of clergy credibly accused of sex abuse of minors. As of 2013, he was believed to be living in Gresham, Oregon. His current whereabouts are unknown.
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