Now that the criminal process against Fr. Uriel Ojeda has ended, we hope we’ll see civil lawsuits soon. Criminal prosecution often deals with one “bad apple.” Civil suits almost always deal with the “bad apple” and the corrupt “barrel.”
Putting a predator behind bars protects kids in the short term. Exposing his complicit colleagues protects kids in the long term, by deterring reckless, callous and deceptive behavior in the future.
Moist of those who commit child sex crimes can’t be deterred. But most of those who conceal, ignore or enable child sex crimes CAN be deterred. But they’re best deterred when they are exposed and held responsible. Civil litigation can do this.
Harsh penalties won’t make many child molesters pause before breaking the law. But harsh penalties will make many employers pause before making irresponsible decisions about hiring and supervising and responding to abuse suspicions or reports.
There’s more to learn about how Fr. Ojeda committed these crimes. We strongly suspect that other current or former Sacramento Catholic church employees and members have information that law enforcement should have. We believe at least a few Catholic officials saw or suspected illegal or inappropriate action by Fr. Ojeda but kept quiet.
We hope that anyone who has any knowledge or suspicions – about clergy sex crimes or cover ups – will find the courage to step forward, call police, expose wrongdoing, protect kids and start healing.
Finally, we are deeply grateful to and proud of the brave victim of this cunning predator. She and her family should be commended for their courage and compassion.