Church Sex Scandal Widens: Hundreds More Catholic Clergy Accused Across CA

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An NBC Bay Area analysis of nearly 700 lawsuits filed against Catholic institutions across Northern California over the past three years suggests the church’s child sexual abuse scandal in the region is significantly worse than the public previously knew.

More than 200 of the clergy and lay employees of the Catholic Church named in the wave of lawsuits have never been publicly accused of being sexually abusive towards children and teenagers until now, NBC Bay Area’s investigation found. Some of the newly accused continue to work as priests.

Other alleged perpetrators named in the civil filings have faced previous accusations but now face new claims, some of them dozens.

NBC Bay Area is in the process of reaching out to those accused in the lawsuits and anticipates publishing a complete list of names at the conclusion of that process.

While most local dioceses have released internal lists of suspected child predators in recent years, the new allegations threaten the credibility of those disclosures, according to victim advocates, who argue the dioceses’ lists should be significantly longer.

“I think it just shows what a pervasive, uncontrolled disaster was happening in the Catholic Church as far as children,” said East Bay attorney Rick Simons, who is serving as the plaintiffs’ co-liaison counsel for the coordinated civil cases hitting Catholic dioceses in Northern California.

In Northern California alone, Simons said more than 1,500 lawsuits were filed against Catholic dioceses during the state’s three-year lookback window, which closed at the end of December. In 2019, state lawmakers passed the lookback law allowing childhood victims of sexual abuse to file new lawsuits in civil court, no matter when the alleged abuse occurred.

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