Abuse Survivors Sue the Vatican in S.F. Court

The Catholic priest abuse scandal is back with a vengeance, as victims sue the Vatican and demand names in 3,400 sex abuse cases.

San Francisco has become the new front in childhood sexual abuse survivors taking on the Catholic Church. Two alleged victims filed a lawsuit against the Vatican on Wednesday, the Bay City News reports, demanding that the church “release the names of perpetrators and documents in 3,400 credible cases of childhood sexual abuse worldwide” which they claim the Vatican is sitting on and keeping secret.

None of the abuses alleged in this case took place in San Francisco, but a separate report from the same firm representing these victims does name 135 accused offenders in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Wednesday’s filing does allege numerous abuses at Catholic churches throughout the Bay Area. Plaintiff Kathleen Stonebraker says she was abused at St. Joseph’s Church in Pinole while she was between the ages of 11 and 13, the suit names an additional 18 priests accused of abuse in the Diocese of San Jose and a few other other alleged perpetrators in Santa Clara County.

“I was repeatedly raped and molested,” Stonebraker said at a press conference Wednesday.

The Diocese of San Jose knew these charges were coming and released a statement Monday that does indicate some guilt on their part. “We now know, based on the current psychological best practices, that returning these men to ministry was a misguided attempt at rehabilitation and the Diocese has abolished this practice,” the statement said. “We encourage any victims/survivors of abuse by clergy, who have not previously come forward, to do so by contacting the local law enforcement.”

In all of these cases, the victims allege that each priest had been credibly accused or suspected of abuse, but was allowed to remain in contact with children. They claim the Vatican knows of 3,400 additional abuse cases, and are seeking a court order to have the names of those priests released.

The lawsuit will proceed with an initial case management conference on Jan. 25, 2019.

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