Father David Ghiorso
Archdiocese of San Francisco
Leave of Absence: 2021
- 1981-1995: St. Vincent’s School for Boys (San Rafael, CA)
- 1982-1990: CYO Camp Armstrong (Occidental, CA)
- 2000-2012: Leave
- 2012-2022: St. Charles Parish (San Carlos, CA)
- 2012-2022: St. Matthias (Redwood City, CA))
Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Father David Ghiorso:
Fr. David Ghiorso worked in several parishes in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, beginning in the early 1980s, including a private school for boys and a CYO summer camp. As of 2022, Ghiorso was a serving pastor in San Carlos and Redwood City, CA.
In 2020, the state of California lifted the statute of limitations for civil claims against private institutions for sexual abuse of minors by its employees. As a result of the three-year “lookback” window that allows new child sex abuse lawsuits based on formerly barred claims, Fr. Ghiorso was named and accused by three separate victims claiming they were sexually abused at St. Vincent’s School for Boys and at CYO Camp Armstrong, dating back 30-40 years.
In late 2021, Fr. Ghiorso was quietly put on leave by Catholic officials after they received the allegations pending further investigation. The diocese did release a letter to parents and parishioners of those that attended either St. Charles and St. Matthias churches, stating that Fr. Ghiorso had been accused of misconduct dating back 30-40 years, therefore downplaying the allegations. It also said that Fr. Ghiroso has had 39 years of “faithful priestly ministry.” It is especially concerning that Fr. Ghiorso appears not to have had a pastoral assignment from 2000 until he was assigned to the parish of St. Charles in San Carlos and St. Matthias in Redwood City. This gap in his work history should be explained and clarified.
According to media reports, investigators claim that despite hundreds of new Northern California legal filings against four Bay Area priests as of June 2022, the diocese’s internal review board did not substantiate the claims against the men, and it would be unjust to keep them out of ministry.
One of the victims alleges in the civil complaint that he and other St. Vincent’s children were sex trafficked by priests between the school and a remote Sonoma County Catholic summer camp known as CYO Camp in the early 1980s. One of these priests was Fr. Ghiorso. The victim stated that Shortly after these trips to Camp Armstrong began taking place, the priests would round the boys up at night and after plying the boys with alcohol, the priests engaged in sexual acts with some of the boys or forced the boys to engage in sexual acts with one another. The victim said the range of sexual acts varied but included oral copulation and anal sex.
The lawsuit alleges that he reported the abuse to school officials at the time of the incident, but instead of reporting the criminal sexual abuse to law enforcement authorities or addressing the cause of abuse to protect others, St. Vincent’s immediately removed the victim from the school and placed him in a foster home, thereby ending his abuse.
The second plaintiff in the lawsuit alleges that he arrived at St. Vincent’s School for Boys in 1989. For about a year, he was given wine and raped by Fr. Ghiorso.
A separate lawsuit, filed in April 2022, accuses Fr. Ghiorso of repeatedly raping a 10-year-old boy during his time at St. Vincent’s between 1988 and 1991. According to the lawsuit, Ghiorso’s accuser attempted to run away from the school due to the abuse and was heavily medicated by school officials during his time there “in an attempt to control these behavioral outbursts.”
So far, more than 200 lawsuits have been filed in Northern California accusing priests or church employees of abuse. It’s likely other new names will emerge by the time the three-year lookback window closes on Dec. 31, 2022.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of San Francisco 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 Archdiocese of San Francisco now have legal options due to a voluntary compensation fund created by the Archdiocese of San Francisco, 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.