Catholic Priest who worked in NorCal sued for child sexual abuse, SNAP demands outreach
A long-serving Catholic clergyman who worked in Northern California has been accused in a new lawsuit of raping a child. We insist that every diocese where the cleric was assigned notify parishioners and the public of the allegations and beg anyone with information to come forward and make a report to law enforcement.
Fr. John McCracken was accused in a recently filed complaint of violently raping a young altar boy on multiple occasions between 1972-1974 when the priest was working at Queen of All Saints in Concord, which is part of the Diocese of Oakland. Over the course of his very long career Fr. McCracken had assignments not only in Oakland, but also in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the Diocese of Sacramento, and the Diocese of Santa Rosa.
The cleric also supported a summer ministry for children from west Oakland at Sunshine Camp in Mendocino County. We fear he may have visited the camp and this is of particular concern to us because we remember the case of Fr. Gary Timmons, who founded a camp where he was accused of grooming and abusing dozens of children. We implore the Santa Rosa bishop to investigate the connection between Fr. McCracken and Sunshine Camp immediately.
False allegations of clergy sexual abuse are extremely rare. It is also extremely rare for an abuser to have only one victim.
The current bishop in each of these four dioceses needs to reach out and beg anyone who may have suffered, witnessed or suspected abuse by this clergyman to come forward. We believe that it is particularly incumbent on the Oakland and Santa Rosa Dioceses to do this. We also call on Bishop Michael Barber, Bishop Jaime Soto, and Bishop Robert Vasa to immediately add Fr. McCracken to their lists of accused clergy. We would also hope that this new case will give further impetus for Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone to finally join his brother bishops and actually publish such a list and include this newly accused cleric.
In addition, we ask that each prelate open their secret files regarding Fr. McCracken voluntarily. This will help in the recovery not only of the courageous man who is the plaintiff in this new lawsuit, but also any other victims will know that they are not alone and can begin to heal.
Fr. McCracken held an exalted position as a monsignor and no doubt had access to hundreds, if not thousands, of children over the years. Notably, he succeeded Fr. James Clark at St. Anne's in Walnut Creek. St. Anne's is close to a retirement community and is a parish with almost no children. Fr. Clark was sent there after abusing children at Corpus Christi Church in Fremont. It seems to us that the fact that St. Anne's apparently hosted two abusers may indicate that it is a parish where Oakland Catholic officials sent problem priests to keep them away from other potential victims.
Anyone who was abused by Fr. McCracken or any other California clergyman should report the crimes to the Attorney General's office. If you need help or support to do this, SNAP is the country's oldest and largest support group for men and women who were harmed by religious leaders as children or as vulnerable adults. We stand ready to assist any victim of clergy sexual abuse as they come forward.
CONTACT: Dan McNevin, SNAP Treasurer (415-341-6417, [email protected]), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator (925-708-6175, [email protected]), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected])
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)