18 Dec 2010

Oakland diocese sued for failing to protect children from "monster pedophile" priest, Pope also implicated

San Francisco Chronicle - August 19, 2010

Alleged abuse victims sue Oakland Diocese

Henry K. Lee | Chronicle Staff Writer

Seven people filed suit Wednesday against Oakland's Roman Catholic Diocese, saying they were sexually abused by a defrocked East Bay priest whom the Vatican allowed to remain on the job even after he pleaded no contest to lewd-conduct charges decades ago.

By failing to isolate Stephen Kiesle from the public, the diocese allowed the onetime priest to victimize more children, the plaintiffs' attorneys said at a news conference on the steps of the Cathedral of Christ the Light in downtown Oakland.

One of those who sued the diocese in Alameda County Superior Court was Kiesle's stepdaughter, 48-year-old Teresa Rosson.

"This monster pedophile was in my life for 30 years, and he continued his abuse with me and others," said Rosson, who accused Kiesle of sexually abusing her from the age of 11 until she was 40.

Rosson said her mother has been married to Kiesle since 1982. Kiesle, 63, now lives in Walnut Creek, according to the state directory of registered sex offenders.

"We're here today to make sure that this doesn't happen anymore to any other innocent kids that will have their lives traumatized until they die," said Rosson, who held a picture of herself when she was 11.

Besides Rosson, those filing suit were Kathleen McDermott Stonebraker, 49, of Pinole; Lisa Crenshaw, whose age and residence were not given; and three other women and a man not identified by name. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages.

Diocese spokesman Mike Brown said he could not comment because officials had not reviewed the claims. But he said the diocese had taken steps to remove Kiesle from priesthood duties after the initial molestation case against him came to light.

"This was a highly publicized event at the time. I'm sure the bishops all talked," Brown said.

Kiesle pleaded no contest to lewd conduct charges in 1978 after being accused of tying up and molesting two boys at a parish in Union City, where he was a teacher and priest. He served three years of probation, then asked to be removed from the priesthood. John Cummins, then the diocese's bishop, agreed he should leave.

That was in 1981, the same year that then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was appointed to head the Vatican department responsible for disciplining priests. Cummins wrote multiple letters requesting Kiesle's removal, but the priest wasn't defrocked until 1987. [see links below for related articles on the Pope's negligence]

Even after he was defrocked, Kiesle served as a volunteer youth minister at St. Joseph's Church in Pinole for at least eight months in 1988, the plaintiffs said.

Earlier this year, a letter surfaced that Ratzinger - now Pope Benedict XVI - sent to the Oakland Diocese in 1985, saying he needed more time to consider Cummins' request to remove Kiesle.

Critics have said the letter is among a growing body of evidence indicating the future pontiff didn't do nearly enough to discipline priests involved in child abuse cases in the United States and Europe.

In 2002, Kiesle was accused of molesting five children up to 30 years earlier when he was a priest at Santa Paula Church in Fremont. Charges against him were dismissed in June 2003, when the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated provisions of a 1994 California law that had extended the statute of limitations for child molestation.

Jeff Anderson, an attorney for the plaintiffs who filed suit Wednesday, described Kiesle as a "cunning predator."

"The bishop kept it a secret, did not alert or warn the unwary, and each of these kids, now adults, were abused," Anderson said. "In the final analysis, they (church officials) are more concerned with saving face and preserving their reputation than the well-being and safety of these children, and that is sad."

This article was found at:



Vatican officials, including future pope, refused to defrock "evil, remorseless sociopath" priest until 9 years after his first conviction for sex crimes

Why should the pope and other church officials get away with violating the rule of law and the rights of children?

Case of pedophile priest protected by UK's top Catholic puts lie to apologist claims that clergy sex crimes are all historic

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