A former Irvine church assistant is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange alleging that she was sexually assaulted by a priest who previously spent time in a treatment facility for sexually deviant clergy, it was reported Friday.
In her lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court on Wednesday, the woman, identified only as Jane Doe, says she was sexually assaulted and harassed by Father Alex Kim in 2016 while working as his assistant when he was pastor at St. John Neuman Church in Irvine. He is also being sued.
David Ring, the woman’s attorney, said the diocese was aware of Kim’s “history of exploiting female parishioners” but turned a blind eye because of his popularity and success at fundraising, the register reported.
“He was using his position of power to sexually assault and exploit vulnerable women who looked to him as a priest,” Ring said, adding that Kim is no longer serving at any churches.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange said in a statement Thursday that Kim was immediately removed from public ministry in September after it was made aware of the allegation in the case.
“This case does not involve a minor and does not relate to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the policy commitment of the church to protect children and young people from abuse,” the statement says. “The diocese has never received an allegation against Rev. Alex Kim that relates to the Charter or that would invoke the related safe-environment policies.”
The suit alleges that Kim, ordained in 1991, was circulated to various parishes in Orange County and ultimately promoted to pastor despite a decade- long history of sexual misconduct complaints by female parishioners. The diocese sent him to a treatment facility in 2012 before naming him as pastor at St. John Neuman, the suit says.
Ring said the woman filed a complaint with the diocese in 2016 but did not go to police because she did not want to see Kim criminally prosecuted, the Register reported. She had hoped that the diocese would handle the situation, he said.
—City News Service