CA -- LA Archdiocese hides death of notorious predator priest
For immediate release: Monday, Feb. 9, 2015
Sex abuse victims blast archbishop
He hid death of notorious LA predator priest
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is blasting Los Angeles’ Catholic archbishop for keeping the death of a notorious serial predator priest secret for months.
Days ago, a Seattle woman who was sexually assaulted as a child by Fr. George Neville Rucker discovered that he passed away in May of 2014. Rucker allegedly molested at least 38 girls and was one of the most prolific abusers among the LA archdiocese’s 266 publicly accused predator priests.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are sharply criticizing Archbishop Jose Gomez for keeping silent about Rucker’s passing.
“Dozens of deeply wounded women might have slept better at night for nine months had LA Catholic officials had the decency to tell them that their perpetrator could no longer hurt any kids,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s director. “Gomez’ self-serving secrecy shows that Catholic officials are still dealing with child molesting clerics in the same way they always have – hiding the truth from parishioners and the public time and time again, even when it clearly hurts already wounded victims and even when it violates their own policies and pledges about allegedly being ‘open’ about abuse.”
The woman who uncovered the notice about Rucker’s death is Mary Dispenza of Bellevue Washington, SNAP's Seattle director.
“I spent a year trying to find out where Rucker was because I thought this news might bring some measure of healing or closure to me and some of the others he hurt,” she said. “I even emailed the archdiocese through its own website. But no one responded.”
Dispenza stressed, however, that she’s relieved no one else will ever be assaulted by Rucker.
“Bishops claim ‘We’ve changed.’ They say ‘We don’t keep secrets anymore.’ But it’s obvious that this is just spin,” said Joelle Casteix of Orange County CA, SNAP's western regional director. “When it comes to child molesting clerics, Catholic officials are as secretive as ever. Gomez should be ashamed of himself.”
“For decades, bishops recruit, educate, hire, train, supervise, and transfer priests like Rucker,” Casteix stressed. “Then, when the crimes and cover ups are exposed, bishops finally defrock these priests and walk away and pretend they’re powerless to do anything more to prevent future crimes by these priests or help the victims of these priests. It’s both disingenuous and hurtful.”
"What possible motive, other than avoiding more publicity about one of LA's most awful predators, could Gomez have for keeping Rucker's death hidden?" asked Clohessy. "Once again, a bishop conceals the truth for his own benefit."
According to BishopAccountability.org, Rucker began sexually violating girls “shortly after his ordination.” He was first investigated by police on suspicions of abusing kids in 1967. The first of dozens of civil abuse and cover ups suits against he and his church supervisors was filed 1994.
In 2002, he was arrested on charges involving 12 girls. But criminal charges against him were dropped in 2003 due to a Supreme Court ruling in a case called “Stogner.”
In 2011, Rucker was arrested on a cruise ship headed for Russia. Ultimately, because of the statute of limitations, he escaped criminal prosecution.
After years of legal wrangling, and repeated promises of his personnel file was finally released to the public in 2013.
“It’s not too late for Gomez to act with decency and openness,” Clohessy emphasized. “We urge him to publicly announce Rucker’s death – using church websites, parish bulletins, and pulpit announcements – and beg anyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups to call secular authorities, not church officials. Gomez could, by acting now, show at least a modicum of compassion for some of the hundreds of suffering adults who were assaulted as kids in his archdiocese.”