Fr. Mario Cimmarrusti – Diocese of Oakland

| Dec 7, 2020 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Father Mario Cimmarrusti

Diocese of Oakland/Franciscans

Ordained: 1957

Died: 2013

Assigned as follows:

  • 1957-1958: Immaculate Conception, St. Mary’s (Phoenix, AZ)
  • 1958-1965: St. Francis Minor Seminary (Troutdale, OR)
  • 1965-1970: St. Anthony’s Minor Seminary (Santa Barbara, CA)
  • 1970-1981: Mexican Missions, Guaymas (Sonora, Mexico)
  • 1981: Hazelden Foundation (Center City, MN)
  • 1981-1982: Servants of the Paraclete, St. Michael’s, Therapeutic Comm. (St. Louis, MO)
  • 1982-1985: St. Mary of the Assumption (Stockton, CA)
  • 1985-1993: Our Lady of Guadalupe (Delano, CA)
  • 1993-2004: Old Mission San Miguel (San Miguel, CA)
  • 2004-2009: San Damiano (Danville, CA)
  • 2009-2011: Elder Care Facility (MO)
  • 2012: Elder Care Center (CA)

Summary of Abuse Allegations against Father Mario Cimmarrusti:

Fr. Mario Cimmarrusti was a priest of the Franciscan order. He worked in the Dioceses of Stockton and Fresno. He attended St. Anthony’s in the 1940s, and in the 1960s and 1970s, he served at St. Anthony’s as prefect of discipline, head of the infirmary, teacher, and choir assistant. According to media reports, he may have sexually abused more than 250 boys, ages 13-18, many of them at St. Anthony’s Minor Seminary in Santa Barbara, in the 1960s and 1970s.

Two former students said they went to rector Fr. Xavier Harris in 1965 and 1966 to report that Cimmarrusti had sexually abused them. One of them was expelled, the other said Harris bribed him to stay at St. Anthony’s. Cimmarrusti was sent to work in Mexico for more than a decade. He was also sent to treatment for alcoholism from 1981-1982. He was then placed in parish ministry in the Dioceses of Stockton, then Fresno, where he was a parish pastor.

In 1993, Cimmarrusti was removed from ministry after former St. Anthony’s students began accusing him of child sexual abuse and in 2003, he was named in a civil lawsuit. In 2006, a settlement was reached in a case involving Cimmarrusti and seven other priests accused of sexually abusing students at St. Anthony’s Seminary High School, the Santa Barbara Boys Choir, and the Santa Barbara Mission.

Named in a 2004 lawsuit, Cimmarrusti is said to have targeted mostly Freshman boys. He “screened” them to see if they were vulnerable to abuse by fondling them, then targeted for further abuse, those who showed embarrassment or arousal. He is accused of telling at least two boys they were overweight. Under the guise of checking their weight and thyroid glands, he ordered them to come to his room and sexually assaulted them. He reportedly ordered students to his room for “hernia exams”, found “medical reasons” to rub lotions on students’ genitals, and dried students off after baths.

According to media reports, Cimmarrusti is accused of sexually assaulting sick students who were in the infirmary and during counseling. He reportedly ordered students to strip from the waist down, to bend over his lap, and to endure violent spankings that went on for 10 to 20 minutes, during which time Cimmarrusti was visibly sexually aroused. Afterward, he would pray for his victims while pressing their faces into his groin. He would then threaten them with eternal damnation.

At least two dozen former students have come forward alleging sexual abuse by Cimmarrusti between 1962 and 1969. He reportedly admitted to mental health professionals about sexually abusing hundreds of boys, though his attorney stated that he denied all accusations in May 2012.

Cimmarrusti’s last known address was San Damiano Retreat House in Danville, California in the Diocese of Oakland. In 2004, his name was included on the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ list of priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse. In 2019, his name appeared on the Diocese of Oaklands’ list of clergy credibly accused of sex abuse of minors.

From 1994 to his death in 2012, his whereabouts were unknown.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Oakland. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest or other Catholic clergy in California State, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Oakland now have legal options, 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 Oakland and nationwide. We can help.

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