New child sex abuse and cover-up suit filed

  • New child sex abuse and cover-up suit filed
  • It’s against cleric and Salinas Catholic school
  • Priest took child out-of-state and abused him
  • SNAP: “Officials knew he was predator but did nothing”
  • He was one of at least three child-molesting clerics at school
  • Victim going public to "ensure this doesn't happen again"
  • Kids abused at the school must come forward before Aug 1 deadline, group says

Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will:

-- Announce a new child sex abuse and cover-up lawsuit against an ex-priest and a Salinas school,
-- Show how school and church officials hid the predator for decades,
-- Demand that school officials retract a letter to alumni that says no abuse happened at school, and
-- Urge all victims of sexual abuse at the school to come forward before a court-mandated deadline.

Outside of Palma High School, 919 Iverson Street (at Acacia) in Salinas CA

** Note: The event will take place on public property outside of the school. Participants will NOT enter the campus or approach students **

Thursday, March 29 at 12:15 pm

Four to five victims of child sex abuse and their supporters who are members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (, including a California woman who is the group's western regional director.

This week, a former student at Palma School came forward publicly to say that former Palma teacher Fr. Gerald Funcheon sexually abused him while he was a student at the school. In a child sex abuse and cover-up lawsuit filed in Minnesota, former Palma student Chris Spedden says that Funcheon sexually abused him when he was 13 years old. 
The lawsuit also alleges that Palma administrators and church officials knew that Funcheon had abused kids earlier and had serious issues with drugs and alcohol. In spite of this, they allegedly did nothing to keep kids safe and allowed Funcheon, a member of the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross (Crosier) religious order, to take Chris and other students on trips and retreats as a part of his duties as chaplain.
Funcheon is one of three predators who have been recently exposed at the school.
Spedden came forward when he learned that the religious order that ran the school, the Irish Christian Brothers (ICB), sought bankruptcy protection after more than 50 former students came forward at other ICB schools to allege abuse.  Victims at Palma only have until August 1, 2012 to speak up, expose predators and get justice. After that date, many victims will lose their rights to use the civil courts to seek justice.
Last month, Palma School officials sent letters to the alumni saying that there were no allegations of abuse at the school. In light of Funcheon's history and other known perpetrators who worked at the school, SNAP is asking the school officials retract the letter and apologize.
According to the lawsuit, Funcheon sexually abused Chris while on a ski trip to Bend, Oregon. Spedden was a student at Palma at the time, and was interested in the Air Force. Funcheon, an Air Force Chaplain, used that connection and his role a priest to earn the boy's trust.
More than a dozen boys have come forward to accuse Gerald Funcheon of abuse, including a victim in Hawaii, who was abused at Damien Memorial High School, Funcheon's assignment immediately before Palma.
The Irish Christian Brothers, a New York-based Catholic religious order that runs dozens of schools in the US - including Palma High School - declared bankruptcy. Victims believe their goal is to avoid embarrassing child sex abuse and cover-up trials.
The victim will NOT be present at the event, but SNAP will read a statement that he has written. The victim is represented by attorney Mike Finnegan of St. Paul, MN.  (651) 227-9990.
Copies of the complaint will be available at the press conference. 
Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, CA, SNAP Western Regional Director, 949-322-7434, [email protected]
Tim Lennon of San Francisco, SNAP San Francisco Director, 415-312-5820, [email protected]
Barb Dorris of St. Louis, MO, SNAP Outreach Director, 314-503-0003, [email protected]

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  • Joelle Casteix
    published this page in Media Events 2012-03-29 07:58:37 -0500

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