CA--Bishop kept quiet about priest arrested for criminal sexual assault

Statement by Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, SNAP western regional director (949) 322-7434 cell, [email protected]

A San Diego priest, Fr. Jacob Betrand, has been criminally charged with sexual assault in Minnesota. He’s also been accused of paying his victim to keep her quiet. But what we find even more troubling is the fact that church officials in San Diego may have known about the allegations for at least four years and did nothing to alert Catholics of the risk.   

Bertrand only stepped down when he learned that criminal charges were imminent. He now faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Bishop Robert McElroy, like his brother bishops, has promised complete transparency when it comes to sexual abuse and assault. Yet, for the second time this year, he has turned a blind eye to the safety of parishioners who encounter his priests and former priests.

In April, a San Diego priest criminally convicted of sexual assault was quietly reassigned to a parish in Oklahoma City. McElroy did little to nothing to stop the transfer or warn Oklahoma Catholics of the danger. The priest, Fr. Alexis Davila, was only removed when survivors alerted parishioners of the problem.

Now, we learn that the Betrand’s alleged victim informed church officials in 2012. She filed a police report in 2016 only after, we believe, church officials refused to remove him and inform San Diego Catholics.

While McElroy may not believe that what Bertrand did was criminal, he has a duty and obligation to be transparent. He was not. The fact that Bertrand was criminally charged only makes McElroy’s silence worse.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Joelle Casteix (949-322-7434, [email protected])   

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