Another Lawsuit Filed Against the Catholic Diocese of Oakland

Another lawsuit has been filed against a California Catholic diocese and two churches where a notorious sexual abuser worked. We applaud the victim for coming forward and bringing this new suit, a move that will force more truth and information about clergy sexual abuse into the public eye.

A sad element of this case is the fact that apparently both the plaintiff and his brother were abused by the priest in question, Rev. Hector David Mendoza-Vela. Sadly, many sexual abusers have multiple victims and we hope that others who may have been hurt by this priest find the strength to come forward and make a report.

Fr. Mendoza-Vela was convicted of sexually abusing the boy in 2019 and sentenced to four years and eight months in prison. Now, this lawsuit represents an opportunity to hold Catholic officials in Oakland responsible for allowing this abuse to occur. By permitting Fr. Mendoza-Vela to live with parishioners in the diocese, local leaders essentially let the fox loose in the hen house, allowing the priest extraordinary access to multiple children. This disastrous practice should never have been allowed in the first place. Only 1 in 9 children ever report while the abuse is ongoing, so this poor decision may well have exposed all the children in this household to the scourge of abuse and the resulting shame and silence that follows.

We are also grateful to the courageous therapist who worked with the victim in this case, helping him deal with the lifelong effects of his abuse and making a report to law enforcement. Without them, this case might never have been brought forward and other children would still be at risk. We hope that survivors who may still be suffering in silence are encouraged by this story to come forward and get help on their healing journey.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is currently investigating cases of clergy abuse throughout California and has a website available for victims and witnesses to make confidential reports. We encourage anyone who may have seen, suffered, or suspected abuse at the hands of Fr. Mendoza-Vela or any other church staffer in the Oakland area to come forward and make a report, either by using this online reporting form or by sending an email to [email protected].

CONTACT: Dan McNevin, SNAP California ([email protected], 415-341-6417), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP California ([email protected], 925-708-6175) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

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