Eight Catholic priests who served or lived in the Tri-Valley at some point years ago were identified in a recently released report by a Minnesota-based law firm listing the names of clergymen connected with Bay Area dioceses who were accused of sexual misconduct against children.
Jeff Anderson & Associates, which filed a lawsuit earlier this month against 10 of California’s 11 Roman Catholic dioceses alleging a sexual abuse cover-up, published the names Tuesday in a report that lists over 200 accused men across the three dioceses of San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland.
“The data reveals the scandalous scale of hundreds of priests assaulting thousands of minors from early history to the present in these Dioceses,” the report states. “The data collected suggests the patterns and practices of Church officials, including the orchestration of an institutional cover-up of an enormous magnitude.”
The report suggests that as part of this “institutional cover-up,” priests were “intentionally transferred and retained in trusted positions with direct access to children even when they were known to be abusers.”
The law firm acknowledges in their introduction that many of the allegations have not yet been proven in a court of law.
“While lawsuits were filed involving many of these alleged perpetrators, the vast majority of the claims against these individuals have been settled or have not been fully evaluated in a civil court,” the report says. “Accordingly, the allegations should be considered just allegations and should not be considered proved or substantiated in a court of law.”
The list comes on the heels of -- and adds to -- another similar list of accused clergymen released by Bishop Patrick McGrath of the Diocese of San Jose on Oct. 18 in an effort to increase transparency from the church.
Earlier this month, Bishop Michael Barber from the Diocese of Oakland, which includes Tri-Valley parishes, said that he would soon be announcing the names of all clergy in his diocese “credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.” A release date has not been confirmed.
“This public accountability will allow you and others in our community to see we are keeping our promises,” he wrote in a letter Oct. 2. “We have nothing to hide. It is the right thing to do.”
Barber added that he anticipated the list would take about 45 days to compile, in order to ensure the accuracy of allegations.
The recently released law firm’s report includes photos of the accused clergymen, details their work assignment history and accusations, and is sourced through existing online resources like media reports, The Official Catholic Directory, bishopaccountability.org and local dioceses’ public statements.
According to the law firm’s list, one accused priest previously served in Pleasanton, two in Livermore and four in Dublin. One accused priest also resided in Danville for a time.
Edmond Cloutier, who was ordained in 1946, worked in multiple different parishes throughout the Bay Area, but was in Pleasanton for the longest stint, serving at St. Augustine Catholic Church from 1965-81, after which he retired.
Cloutier, who died in 2003, is accused of sexually abusing at least four children at Star of the Sea Catholic Church in San Francisco, where he was assigned from 1953-60, according to the Jeff Anderson & Associates law firm.
His time at Star of the Sea marked his first California assignment after moving here from Maine, and at some point he was named in a lawsuit related to the alleged abuse, the report says, though it doesn’t specify when. Cloutier’s whereabouts between his departure from St. Augustine and his death are unknown.
James Clark, ordained in 1947, also had a variety of assignments throughout the Bay Area, among them St. Michael Catholic Church in Livermore from 1960-63. At the end of this period, Clark was arrested and convicted of oral copulation of a 19-year-old man in Santa Cruz, and was ordered by the judge to “go to counseling, undergo psychiatric treatment, and that his bishop be notified of ‘his problem,’” the report says.
With a felony to his name, Clark went on to serve in Oakland, Fremont and Walnut Creek -- during his time at Corpus Christi Church in Fremont, Clark was accused of sexually abusing at least four children from approximately 1968-80, according to the report. He was named in multiple lawsuits and died in 1989.
Anthony Slane was another local priest, assigned to Villa San Clemente in Livermore from 1948-50 and then again in 1958-60. Slane, ordained in 1942, was named in a lawsuit alleging that he sexually abused a child at San Leandro’s St. Alphonsus Liguori Parish, where he was assigned immediately after concluding his second stint at Villa San Clemente.
Slane also had parish assignments outside of California, in Wisconsin, Montana, Oregon and Washington. His name also appears on the “Seattle archdiocese’s 2016 list of clergy and religious with admitted, established or credible allegations against them of sexually abusing a minor,” the law firm states. Slane died in Ligouri, Miss. in 2010.
Although he is not listed as having served in the Tri-Valley, the last known address of Mario Cimmarrusti was San Damiano Retreat House in Danville. Cimmarrusti was assigned to parishes across the country and in Sonora, Mexico, concluding his service in Delano, located within the Diocese of Oakland. He was officially accused of sexual abuse in 1994, from his time serving at St. Anthony’s Minor Seminary in Santa Barbara in the 1960s, and later named in a lawsuit in 2003, according to the law firm.
A settlement was reached in 2006 for a case that involved Cimmarrusti and seven other priests accused of sexually abusing students at St. Anthony’s Seminary High School, the Santa Barbara Boys Choir and the Santa Barbara Mission, and his name appears on the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ 2004 list of priests accused of sexual misconduct involving minors, the report says. His whereabouts from about 1994 until his death in 2013 are not fully confirmed, although his last known address was the retreat house in Danville.
Four priests appearing in the report have connections to Dublin.
Ronald LaGasse, ordained in 1969, was arrested in 1984 on suspicion of sexually abusing a 17-year-old boy at St. Raymond in Dublin, the report states, adding that he served there from 1982-86, among other Bay Area locations including Walnut Creek and Martinez.
“He was sent for treatment and placed on leave for one year, then reassigned,” the report continues. “It is believed he worked as an abbot of an independent Benedictine Monastery in Hawaii.”
He returned to the Bay in 1989, serving in Alameda and Oakland. LaGasse retired in 2004 but his current whereabouts are unknown, though he was believed to be living in Phoenix, Ariz. as of 2012.
William Hold worked in Sacramento for about 20 years after being ordained in 1977, after which he was assigned to serve at St. Joseph Church in Pinole. (The report’s exact dates contradict each other for this entry.) In 2002, Diocesan officials revealed that Hold had been accused of abuse three years prior, allegedly taking place in Woodland.
“No action was ever taken and Fr. Hold retired in good standing in 1999,” the report states, adding that he also served at St. Raymond in Dublin, though it doesn’t say exactly when.
Philip Steigerwald, ordained in 1976, served at various parishes in Oregon, Massachusetts and the Bay Area, including, it is believed, St. Raymond in Dublin, according to the report. He was accused in 2002 by a man who alleged that he was sexually abused by Steigerwald as a child in 1978.
Steigerwald’s whereabouts from 1987 until his death in 1992 are unknown.
And Donald Eugene Broderson, ordained in 1968, also served at St. Raymond for some time, from 1980-82, the report says. Broderson was assigned to various parishes throughout the Bay Area, including Fremont and Castro Valley. He was accused by multiple survivors of child sexual abuse from about 1972-78, a time during which he worked at several sites in Alameda, Hayward, Pleasant Hill and Fremont.
Among other allegations, six brothers accused Broderson of abuse during 1972-73 while he was at St. Joachim Parish in Hayward.
“Fr. Broderson was reportedly then transferred to Most Precious Blood in Concord, California in 1973 where he continued to abuse children until 1975,” the report alleges. “As the allegations surfaced, Fr. Broderson was transferred between parishes and sent to treatment and/or counseling. In 1993, he was forced into retirement by the Church and banned from ministry.”
The report alleges that after retirement he moved back to his parents’ home in Richmond to become a licensed marriage and family therapist.
Broderson was named in multiple lawsuits and in 2005, he admitted to sexually abusing four sets of brothers during the 1970s, the report states. He whereabouts from 1987 until his death in 2010 are unknown.
Staff from the Diocese of Oakland office told the Pleasanton Weekly that they currently expect to release their own list after Thanksgiving.
In the introduction of their report, Jeff Anderson & Associates note some of the background for the release of these names.
“In 2003, the California legislature opened a one year, retroactive window for survivors of child sexual abuse to file civil claims against their perpetrator and the institution that covered up the sexual abuse,” the firm writes. “As a result, the identities and histories of clerical sexual abusers were disclosed to the public. All three Bay Area Dioceses were named in multiple lawsuits and employed sexually abusive priests.”