Small California Diocese has Caused Big Scandals – Diocese of Santa Rosa Corruption

On Behalf of | Nov 28, 2022 | Firm News

Santa Rosa Diocese Cover-Ups Horowitz Law

It would be nice if we could look at a Catholic organization’s website or hear a Catholic official quoted or speaking candidly about the institution’s contentious and continuing crisis: the widespread sexual abuse of children and the cover-up of that abuse by the church hierarchy. But we at Horowitz Law remain consistently disappointed. Just last week, we reported that nearly 21 names were missing from San Diego’s list. We monitor this crisis closely and often see very few church remarks that are simple, direct, honest, and accurate about these crimes and cover-ups. Very few. 

Instead, we see powerful, well-educated men who know better using euphemisms designed to make it sound so unforeseen, so long ago, not so bad, under control, and therefore, not worth focusing on or addressing in any new, effective way. Common quotes include:

  • “Accused of abuse elsewhere.”
  • “No known accusations in the diocese.” 
  • “No record of any assignment in the diocese.”
  • “The vast majority of the abuses occurred decades ago.”

And as we continue to look at the ‘credibly accused’ predator priests lists across California, we see church officials (or, more accurately perhaps, their public relations consultants) use minimizing language at best and deceptive language at worst to ‘spin’ this crisis as anything but what it actually is, an on-going problem with no end in sight. The four quotes above come from Bishop Robert Vasa’s credibly accused clerics list in the Diocese of Santa Rosa, California. To his credit, Vasa admits in one media statement, “We have had sexual abuse events as late as 2006 and 2008, and I find that most troubling.” 

Other observations about the diocese: 

  • It’s the smallest diocese in California but has produced some of the state’s biggest Catholic abuse scandals. Three Santa Rosa predators, in particular, have drawn substantial news coverage.
    • Fr. Donald Wren Kimball was put on leave in 1990 after having been accused of abuse of boys and girls. A decade later, a civil suit against him settled for $1.6 million. In 2002, he was found guilty of child molestation, but the US Supreme Court overturned the law under which he was convicted. Still, he was defrocked and faced numerous other lawsuits.
    • Fr. Gary Timmons admitted in his 1970 diary entry to being a child molester, was sued in 1994, arrested in 1995, was sentenced in 1996, was released from prison in 2000, was defrocked in 2001, was sued again in 2003 and 2007 and put on the diocese’s ‘credibly accused’ list in 2019 and was last known to be living in Sacramento in 2019. It’s estimated that he had at least two dozen victims.
    • Fr. Francisco Xavier Ochoa was ordained in Mexico for the Jesuits but later became an official part of Santa Rosa. In April 2006, Ochoa was put on leave after admitting to sexual misconduct involving a child. But the next month, he fled to Mexico, supposedly just before then-Bishop Daniel Walsh reported him to the police. The Santa Rosa diocese has settled with at least 10 of Ochoa’s victims.
  • The Santa Rosa diocese also seems to have more than the average number of predator priests who also worked in other cities, states, and countries, including Joseph Alzugaray (Los Angeles), Carmelo Baltazar (Philippines), Deceased (San Diego), Edward F. Beutner (Superior), Anthony Bolger (Honolulu), Don D. Flickinger (Fresno), J. Patrick Foley (San Diego), Ruben Garcia (Boise), Patrick Gleeson (Sacramento), Austin Peter Keegan (San Francisco, Mexico), Patrick J. McCabe (Dublin), Francis E. Neville (Sri Lanka), Mark O’Leary (Southern California), Xavier Pallathuparambil (India), Anthony J. Ross (Joliet), Alfredo Sobalvarro (Washington, DC), James Walsh (San Francisco) and Vincent A. Yzermans (St Cloud, MN). This information comes directly from the Santa Rosa diocesan website. 

With just a tiny bit of internet research, we found that a number of other child molesting clerics from or in Santa Rosa also spent time elsewhere. This information, however, is NOT provided on the church website.

These credibly accused predators include: 

    • Fr. Bruce C. Maxwell (Nebraska, Michigan, Bahrain, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, and Japan)
    • Fr. John S. Crews (North Carolina)
    • Fr. John K. Rogers (Belgium)
    • Fr. Ochoa (Mexico)

Fr. Anthony Bolger, mentioned above, also spent time in Mexico though the Bishop doesn’t acknowledge it. Couldn’t Bishop Vasa have gone a bit further to provide a full and accurate work history for these proven, admitted, and credibly accused predators? Religious order clerics who are in or have been in the Santa Rosa area and who are listed as ‘credibly accused’ include: Jose Luis Contreras, Jerome Stack, David Brusky, Kevin Dunne, Francis John Ford, Patrick A. Hannon, Bruce Maxwell, John Moriarty, Mark O’Leary, Francisco Javier Ochoa, Celestine Quinlan, Francis Verngren, and Ron Wiecek.

For the record, here’s the official Santa Rosa diocesan ‘accused’ list and the one from Bishop Accountability. That’s quite a difference. Bishop Vasa can certainly do better. If not for us, for the children.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by religious authority figures and other clergy.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a member of a religious organization, contact us today at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help.