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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

For immediate release: 7th day, April 2010

For more information: Dr. Joseph C. George (916) 442-7100; (916) 802-7949 (cell)

Clergy sex abuse and cover up lawsuit filed in Fresno

A 35 year old man filing a civil child sex abuse and cover up lawsuit against the Fresno Catholic Diocese charging negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and fraudulent concealment/intentional non-disclosure.

The alleged victim, identified only as Joseph Doe, reports he was sexually molested by Father Hermy Dave O.Ceniza, who became assistant pastor at St. Francis Church in Bakersfield in or around 1991. Father Dave transferred to St. Francis from St. Gregory Church in San Mateo, California.

The lawsuit alleges that Father Hermy Dave molested the boy for two years, and then engaged in stalking behavior. According to the lawsuit, Father Hermy Dave physically visited and confronted the boy at the boy’s home and threatened to commit suicide if the child refused to have sex with him.

“This victim is a very brave and strong young man who did exactly what any child sex abuse victim should do: he found the courage to speak up and report the molester to an allegedly responsible adult,” said Sacrament attorney Joseph C. George, who represents Doe. “The trouble is that this grown up, a bishop, refused to call police, and now, a dangerous child molester still walks the streets.”

As a result of the stalking, the boy called Fresno church officials and reported the sexual molestation in 1993. Bishop John T. Steinbock drove from Fresno to Bakersfield to meet with the victim. The two spent two hours together and Steinbock asked detailed questions about Father Hermy Dave’s abuse of the boy. At the end of the meeting, the plaintiff says, Steinbock told him that Father Hermy Dave would no longer be a priest and would no longer have access to children.

The following weekend Father Hermy Dave did not say mass and never again appeared at St. Francis Church.

Because he was satisfied that Steinbock would honor his word and keep Father Hermy Dave away from kids, the victim did not report Father Hermy Dave to the police or file criminal charges or civil litigation, according to the lawsuit. However, after reading a Los Angeles Times story about another Fresno predator priest, Fr. Anthony G. Herdegen, Doe researched the diocese’s track record on abuse and discovered that Father Hermy Dave, in fact, had not been defrocked and still has access to children in the Philippines.

George, who represents Doe, has tried to get information from Steinbock, through his lawyer, about what actions, if any, he took against Father Hermy Dave. However, the church lawyer has refused.


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org
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