The True Cross To Bear: Explored Facts about Sacramento’s Clergy Sex Crimes & Cover-Ups

by | Dec 12, 2023 | Catholic Church

Sacramento Diocese Horowitz Law

Sacramento, per capita, may have seen more of its child molesting predator priests cross national boundaries than any other US diocese. Just when we thought more information would be revealed about these mobile clerics, approximately a whopping 250 abuse and cover-up lawsuits filed against the diocese bumped into an unforeseen obstacle. The Sacramento Catholic officials decided to take shelter in the bankruptcy courts, providing them with an avenue for keeping their dark secrets under wraps. That’s right; the Sacramento Diocese officially announced its filing for bankruptcy protection after months of mulling it over joining dozens of others that have been financially battered by sexual abuse lawsuits. Let’s take a deep dive into the unnerving truth that has unfolded over the years in the Sacramento Diocese.

Interesting Facts about the Sacramento Clergy Sex Crimes & Cover-Ups

Over the years, the alarming number of sex crimes and cover-ups has continued to rise within the Sacramento clergy, revealing a horrifying pattern.

FACT 1: As many as 12 Sacramento priests who have had allegations of child molestation against them spent time or came from overseas. Eight are from Ireland: are Fr. James Casey, Fr. Andrew Coffey, Fr. John Crowley, Fr. Thomas Dermody, Fr. John Hannon, Fr. William Storan, Fr. Simon Twomey, and Fr. Murrough Wallace. Two other priests came from the far reaches of Colombia: Fr. Roberto L. Jaramillo and Fr. Z. Enrique Perez. Fr. Joseph Nguyen Hoan from Vietnam, and Fr. Mario Porras Blanco from Costa Rica.

The list continues with Sacramento priests who moved within the US, not abroad, Fr. Edward Boyle (Reno and Hawaii), Fr. John W. Dowling (Florida, Savannah and Atlanta), Fr. Arthur A. Falvey (Los Angeles), Fr. James Patrick Foley (San Diego, Stockton, Oakland and Iowa), Fr. Jerome M. Henson (Reno, Oakland and Orange County CA), Fr. William B. Hold (Oakland and Oregon), Fr. Robert Marsicek (Wisconsin), Br. Charles A. Onorato (San Jose), Fr. Vernon Petrich (Wisconsin), and Fr. Michael G. Walsh (San Francisco).

FACT 2: There are at least 77 publicly accused child molesting Sacramento clerics – a damning number that shines a harsh light on the realities unfolding within the sacred walls of these religious structures.

FACT 3: The diocese is headed by Bishop Jamie Soto. When he was an auxiliary bishop in Orange County, he wrote to a judge downplaying the child sex crimes of Fr. Andrew Christian Anderson (for which he spent six years in prison). Soto’s letter reads, “Our work brings us into intimate contact with people’s lives,” implying somehow that this might justify or in any way lessen the gravity of molestation charges. Soto continues, “In a time when the exchange of simple affection within the most intimate of circles has become a rare commodity, our associations with others run the grave risk of being misunderstood by all parties, including perhaps the priest himself.” Now, I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that child molestation is a far cry from the “exchange of simple affection.”

FACT 4: The most frequent transfers of abusive Sacramento clerics are surprisingly to and from Mexico. Records show that they often continue their work as clerics, committing more atrocities. Among them are some of the most notorious and prolific of the diocese’s offenders.

  • Fr. Gerardo Beltran Rico, a fugitive from the FBI’s Most Wanted list, reportedly abused at least 12 girls and three boys in Sacramento but fled to Mexico before a warrant against him could be served. With startling disregard for the allegations against him, he continued as a priest in Acapulco until he was finally defrocked in 2008.
  • Fr. Francisco Javier Garcia Ortiz fled to Mexico after twelve felony molestation charges were filed against him and is now facing accusations from two dozen individuals.
  • Fr. Jose Antonio Pinal was accused of twice sodomizing a 14-year-old boy, returning to Mexico, where a US bishop helped him find ministry and advised him to stay in Mexico for five or six years before returning to the US.
  • Fr. Uriel Ojeda was born in the US, raised in Mexico, attended seminary in Oregon, and was sentenced to eight years in prison for child sex crimes in the Sacramento area.
  • Fr. Jose Luis Urbina pled guilty to committing lewd acts with a child under 14 but skipped bail and fled to Mexico before his sentencing.
  • Fr. Hector Coria Gonzales pleaded guilty under an agreement with a district attorney to one count of sexual intercourse with a girl. As of 2015, he was facing deportation to Mexico.
  • Fr. Rodolfo Delgado reportedly assaulted a 15-year-old boy and was permanently removed from ministry in 2006.
  • Fr. Oscar Figueroa was accused of sexually abusing both a boy and a young adult.
  • Fr. David Hernandez Cota was credibly accused of molesting at least one child and put on the official Sacramento diocesan ‘credibly accused’ list in 2019.
  • Fr. Francisco Hernandez-Tovar was put on permanent leave after the diocesan review board determined that the child sex abuse allegations against him were credible.
  • Fr. Jorge Moreno fled to Mexico while criminal charges against him for reportedly abusing a child were pending against him. At least one other victim has come forward accusing him of abuse.
  • Fr. Sidney P. Hall was sent to work in Mexico after having been accused of sexually abusing a six-year-old girl in Sacramento. 

The Transparency vs Bankruptcy Dilemma

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that so many priests being moved around so many times by many different church officials is a clear indication that Sacramento’s bishops knew and/or suspected many clerics were hurting many kids. Bishop Soto seems to hope that by hiding behind and exploiting outdated US bankruptcy laws, the complexity of Sacramento’s church hierarchy would remain undisclosed. This self-serving and morally reprehensible legal maneuver might be a way out for the church, but where does that leave the scores of survivors and families of the child victims?

We at Horowitz Law hope Soto’s actions will backfire and therefore eencourage every person who saw, suspected, or suffered abuse or cover-up in Sacramento has the strength and courage to speak up, call the police, prosecutors, journalists, lawyers, and advocates that will reveal the ugly truth about predator priests, cover-ups, and corruption in the Sacramento Diocese.


In my opinion, legal loopholes and geographical maneuvering can only conceal the truth for so long. It seems pretty apparent that when so many priests are constantly being moved around by the same church officials, there’s something fishy going on. It’s time the victims were heard. It’s time the church stopped hiding behind outdated bankruptcy laws. Let’s hope the truth about the priests of Sacramento will finally be brought to light. Let no stone remain unturned in this quest for justice.

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 a member of a religious organization sexually abused you, 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.