A Camarillo man, who is suing multiple Roman Catholic dioceses throughout the state and who claims he was abused by a priest in Anaheim as a boy, Thursday joined attorneys and other clergy abuse activists to call on the Diocese of Orange to release “secret” files on priests accused of misconduct.
At a news conference at a hotel in Orange Thursday morning, the group alleged there has been widespread covering up of sexual abuse misconduct among clergy in Orange County for years.
They called on Diocese of Orange Bishop Kevin Vann to release the names of all clergy accused of sexual misconduct, which is also a demand of the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by Thomas Emens of Camarillo.
Emens alleges in his lawsuit that from about 1978 to 1980, when he was 10 to 12 years old, he was sexually abused by Monsignor Thomas Joseph Mohan.
Emens’ attorneys, led by Jeff Anderson, issued a report claiming 72 members of the clergy have been accused of sexual abuse, but that the diocese has only released the names of 30 members of the clergy accused of misconduct.
The diocese is expected to respond to the lawsuit by next week, said attorney Mike Reck.
The diocese issued a statement saying Mohan died in 2002 when he was 92 years old. Mohan retired from the priesthood in Chicago and moved in with his sister in Orange County, but was never incardinated in the Diocese of Orange.
The diocese noted it was the first in the state to “voluntarily release the names of living priests incardinated in the Diocese of Orange who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.”
Diocesan officials are reviewing various files and “as appropriate” will “update” its list of accused priests “as warranted.”
The diocese says it “takes all accusations of misconduct and abuse extraordinarily seriously.”
An “independent oversight review board” is empowered to investigate any claims, officials said. The board is mostly comprised of lay people and includes a doctor, attorneys, a retired judge, former FBI worker, a psychologist, a school principal and law enforcement officers.
“Bishop Kevin Vann understands and appreciates the righteous anger expressed toward those who have failed to follow due process and the demands of accountability,” the diocese said in the statement, which also notes that Vann was the first bishop to propose and support the formation of a national investigative group of professionals to address systemic issues in the church.
In 2003 — when victims were given a window to file civil suits involving crimes that fell outside the statute of limitations — the Diocese of Orange moved quickly to settle claims against it, Reck said. But his firm wants more information from the diocese on allegations against priests who have not been defrocked.
On the list of 72 clergymen the firm released in its report, “We have not been able to locate” 35, Reck said.
Those unaccounted clergy members may still be active or deceased, Reck said.
“Public safety requires disclosure,” Reck said.
One of the priests included among the 72, for instance, is Father Tim Ramaekers, the pastor of Corpus Christi church in Aliso Viejo. When Ramaekers was reassigned to Corpus Christi in 2013, parishioners were notified of the claim against him and that it was investigated by the church but not considered credible.
The report from the attorneys said Ramaekers was accused in a 2009 civil suit of sexually abusing a boy in the early 1980s when the youth was a student at St. Justin Martyr Church and School in Anaheim.
Patrick Wall, a former Roman Catholic priest working for the attorneys, claimed there is a “secret archive” maintained by church officials.
“All we want to do is protect children today and in the future,” Wall said. “We know we can’t change the past. We’re not insane.”