$5 Million Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Settlement
Michael A. Fiumara, Fiumara Law, Santa Rosa, CA
Michael Meadows, Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook, Walnut Creek, CA
Daniel Galvin, Shapiro, Galvin, Shapiro & Moran
This claim for personal injury damages was brought on behalf of a group of nine plaintiffs in a case against the Archdiocese of Santa Rosa, involving claims of sexual molestation perpetrated on a group of young men by a Roman Catholic priest. The offending acts allegedly occurred between 1984 and 2006. Of the nine plaintiffs, three were minors at the time our this firm’s representation.
The case was litigated from approximately October 2006 until September 2007 when an agreement was reached with the church. The settlement, which is not confidential, was for $5,020,000.
The nine plaintiffs all suffered emotional and traumatic emotional distress and, in some cases, post-traumatic distress disorder from, in some cases, the many years of abuse by former priest, Xavier Ochoa-Perez, who is also known as Francisco Xavier Ochoa, whom is believed to have fled to Mexico in May 2006. This priest is sought on a non-bail federal arrest warrant alleging unlawful flight to avoid prosecution on 10 felonies, including lewd acts with a child, forcible sodomy, and oral copulation, which were all alleged in the complaint.
The lawsuit accused the Diocese and particularly Bishop Walsh of failing to protect the plaintiffs as minors from incidence of sexual abuse spanning over two decades, even though his tenure did not begin until rather recently. Diocesan officials new of the alleged sexual misconduct, but failed to act to stop Ochoa-Perez, according to the allegations in the complaint.
The victims who were finally compensated were, at the time of the settlement, between the ages of 11 and 34 years old and include former altar boys. The incidence occurred in Ochoa-Perez’s living quarters, in the various church rectories and properties, as well as the children’s homes from approximately 1985 up until May 2006.
The Santa Rosa Roman Catholic Diocese agreed to pay more than $5,020,000 to settle the sexual-abuse lawsuit involving the above-mentioned fugitive priest and $20,000 was paid by Bishop Daniel Walsh personally.