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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
to California Bishops about Molester Released from Prison
January 24, 2006
Bishop Gerald R. Barnes
Bishop Robert Brom
Dear Bishop Barnes and Bishop Brom,
As you are aware, Anthony Rodrigue, a former priest of the Diocese of San Bernardino and the Diocese of San Diego will be released from prison this week where he was sent in 1998 for the sexual assault of a child. He will be residing in San Bernardino County. He is also known as Anthony Edward Rodrigue and Edward Anthony Rodrigue. Some press reports and church records misidentify him as Rodriguez. He is known to many of his victims simply as Fr. Tony.
Rodrigue was ordained in 1962, registered as a sex offender in 1980 and was removed from the priesthood in 1992. He admitted in a lie detector test that he sexually abused 4-5 young boys a year while he was a priest.
While we are thankful that he is no longer a Roman Catholic priest with unfettered access to children in Catholic parishes or schools, we know that Rodrigue's release from prison will undoubtedly place children at risk of abuse again.
We are also glad that he will be required to wear a Global Position Monitoring bracelet after his prison release to help ensure compliance with the terms of his parole and sincerely hope he will not re-offend. Yet his history of abusing children shows that more is required than simply hoping Rodrigue exercises self-control.
Parents must be warned to help prevent him from laying his hands on another child. And his many victims who are likely still trapped in isolation, shame and blame, deserve everyones help and support, including yours, so that they can find the strength to come forward, get help and report the crimes to police.
Sadly, as you know, your predecessors did not warn parishioners about Rodrigues pattern of child molestation and clearly did not do enough to safeguard children from being abused by him.
We fear that you may similarly try to ignore this situation and the threat Rodrigue will soon pose.
You claim that the dioceses no longer have direct responsibility for Rodrique, since he is no longer a priest. While technically true, this does not mean that you do not have a moral responsibility for him. You and your brother bishops recruited, educated, ordained, hired, paid, transferred and shielded Rodrigue, enabling him to abuse innocent kids time and time again. At a bare minimum, we believe you have a moral and civic duty now to warn Catholics about his release and to safeguard families in your diocese from him after he is released.
In light of this, we believe that it is crucial that you publicly reach out to Rodrigues victims now and demonstrate your concern for the safety of children in San Diego and San Bernardino with actions, not just words. For this reason we are urging you specifically to:
---personally visit all parishes and schools near Rodrigues new residence as well as the parishes where he lived or worked in the past explicitly warning parishioners about his history, his release from prison and the likelihood he may contact past parishioners and/or re-offend,
---Use the diocesan websites, newspapers and all parish bulletins to post Rodrigues photo, past history assignments and inform all Catholics of his prison release, urging victims and witnesses to contact law enforcement, and
---post SNAPs independent confidential self-help support group contact information in all parish bulletins as a resource for victims of abuse by clergy.
Although Rodrigue was finally sentenced to prison for one offense, he admittedly abused over a hundred children. Despite all the evidence against him, most of the cases cannot be prosecuted due to archaic and restrictive statutes of limitations. Regardless of the passage of years, law enforcement officials and district attorneys are now often successfully pursuing new ways to prosecute child sex crimes. Therefore, it is never too late to report information to law enforcement. You should emphasize this to your flock.
Finally, we urge you both to stop challenging SB 1779, the only law that allows survivors their day in court and that allows child sex victims to expose their predators so others will be protected. Impartial juries should judge the complicity of church leaders in keeping Rodrigue out of jail. Through the legal process what is known about Rodrigues abuse of minors can be made public, thus warning parents and informing additional victims who continue to feel they are isolated cases.
Additionally, we urge your support of California Senate Bill 261 which will end the criminal statute of limitations for child sexual abuse in the State of California. As demonstrated by your brother bishop, Thomas Gumbleton, who recently disclosed his own sexual molestation at the hands of a priest when he was a teenager, victims can take as long as sixty years until they are able to speak about abuse that they suffered as young people.
We look forward to your response.
Pat Olivas of Ontario,
Tom Rodrigue of Reno, NV
Margarett Schettler of Encino
Gabrielle Azzaro of San Diego
Mary Grant of Long Beach
Enclosure: Rodrigues assignment history
Parish Assignment History of Rev. Anthony Rodrigue
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests