On February 29, 2004, Diocese of Fresno Bishop John T. Steinbock wrote a letter to the parishioners of the Diocese before the publication of the result of the John Jay Study and the Report of the National Review Board on the sexual abuse of children by priests. Bishop Steinbock stated that from 1950 to 2002, there were eight substantiated reports of priest sexual abuse found in the files of the priests. During this time period, 487 priests worked in the diocese.
In 2003, the California legislature opened a one-year, retroactive window for survivors of child sexual abuse to file civil claims against their perpetrators and the institutions that covered up the sexual abuse. As a result of the courage of survivors and the lawsuits brought by survivors’ attorneys, numerous lawsuits related to the employment of sexually abusive priests in California, including the Diocese of Fresno, were filed. For the first time significant numbers of survivors became plaintiffs in civil lawsuits and their attorneys were able to pry open secret church records using the civil legal process. These lawsuits resulted in the release and disclosure of the identities and histories of clerical sexual abusers, those engaged in sexual misconduct, and the release of documents and information reflecting the knowledge of institutions that covered up sexual abuse and misconduct.
The Anderson Report on Sexual Abuse in the Diocese of Fresno contains the names of clergy associated with the Diocese of Fresno, including those of whom were assigned within or working in the geographical boundaries of the Diocese of Monterey-Fresno, before the Diocese of Fresno was formed in 1967, who have been accused of sexual misconduct. 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 or criminal court. Accordingly, the allegations should be considered just allegations and should not be considered proved or substantiated in a court of law. All individuals should be considered innocent until proven guilty. This report is compiled from information already available to the public. Download the report.
On May 14, 2019, the Catholic bishops of California announced the establishment of an Independent Compensation Program for Victim-Survivors of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests (ICP) for six California dioceses, including the Diocese of Fresno. The independent program will be administered by Kenneth R. Feinberg and Camille Biros, with an oversight committee including include former governor Gray Davis and Maria Contreras-Sweet.
We encourage all survivors of priest sexual abuse to consult with legal counsel before proceeding with a claim as part of these compensation programs in California. We have extensive experience navigating similar programs in New York and Pennsylvania, and our California attorneys and advocates are ready to help you explore your options to determine whether this is the right path for you.