More Priest Abuse Victims Plan To Sue Catholic Diocese Of San Diego
Four victims of priest abuse came forward Wednesday to announce they will be suing the Catholic Diocese of San Diego for negligence.
The men say the late Father Anthony Edward Rodrigue molested them when they were children attending parishes in the San Diego Diocese in the 1960s and 1970s. They are now able to bring the case against the Diocese because of a new California law that expands the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual assault.
"Us as little kids, we thought, 'Wow, he's just being affectionate,' until he took us to his room in El Centro and did what he did," said David Tirado, one of the plaintiffs. "That just destroyed my whole life. I couldn't believe that God would let something like this happen."
Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, Tirado and the other victims have a period of three years where they can bring forward claims. California lawmakers opened a similar one-year window for childhood sexual assault victims in 2003. A thousand victims across California filed 140 civil lawsuits that resulted in a $1 billion settlement. The Catholic Diocese of San Diego ultimately filed for bankruptcy.
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Irwin Zalkin who is representing the four alleged victims said they've been looking for justice for over a decade.
"They both had tried earlier, but they missed the 2003 window, so they've been clients of ours for years and we've been working on trying to get legislation passed for years," Zalkin said.
Rodrigue was an ordained priest for almost 30 years. He served 10 years in prison for molesting a developmentally disabled boy.
"This is a person that was employed by the Church. He abused his position, took advantage of people, you know I was probably 3, 4 feet tall looking at a guy who was over, I don't know 6 feet," said Marvin Mayne, one of the plaintiffs. "He was very methodical in how he did things. It is an embarrassment to be here saying this. It's nothing to be proud of, but I've dealt with it long enough,"
In a statement to KPBS, Kevin Eckery, Vice-Chancellor and spokesperson for the diocese said, “No amount of money can make up for the evil done to victims of priestly sex abuse. However, the San Diego Diocese continues to work diligently to support the victim-survivors and to prevent such crimes from ever occurring again.”