New clergy abuse lawsuit is filed

New clergy abuse lawsuit is filed

For years, priest held diocese-wide position

Group blasts relatively new northern California bishop

He held high posts in Fresno and Sacramento dioceses too

His ‘credibly accused predators’ lists is incomplete, SNAP says


Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, an attorney and abuse victim will

--reveal that a new civil case is being filed against the Diocese of Stockton and a religious order, thanks to a new state law that takes effect next month, and

They will also demand that the bishops of two northern California dioceses 

--add more names to their ‘credibly accused clerics’ list, 

--stop hiding abuse reports for months or years and instead, for the safety of kids, disclose them promptly, and 

--start doing ‘aggressive outreach’ to find and help others who were victimized by clerics and are still ‘suffering in shame, silence and self-blame.’


Thursday, Dec. 5 at 3:00 p.m.


On the sidewalk outside the Stockton diocese headquarters, 212 N. San Joaquin St. (corner of Channel) in Stockton, CA (209 466 0636)


A Missouri man who for 30 years headed SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) and a California attorney/psychologist who has handled hundreds of childhood sexual abuse cases.


--1) In a new civil child abuse and cover up lawsuit, “John Doe 180” says he was “severely traumatized” in 1978 when he was sexually molested as a 16 year old by Fr. Fernando (a.k.a. “Ferdinand”) Villalobos at the priest’s home and a church retreat house.

Fr. Villalobos worked at St. Mary’s Church in Stockton (1979–1980) and as the ‘Episcopal Vicar for Hispanics’ for the Stockton diocese (1980–1985). He died in 1985.

Fr. Villalobos’ name was included on two Catholic church ‘credibly accused’ abusive clerics lists: one put out by the Stockton diocese in 2014 and another put out by the Santa Barbara Province Franciscans in May 2019.

The Franciscans claim they received abuse reports against Fr. Villalobos in 2004, 2014 and 2018 covering the years 1979-1983. He died in 1985.

In 2003, Fr. Villalobos was apparently named in two civil lawsuits charging that he sexually abused two kids (12-15) at St. Mary's in Stockton, and that then-Bishop Roger Mahony and other diocese officials covered it up. (Mahony went on to head the largest US Catholic entity, the Los Angeles archdiocese, where he experienced withering criticism for hiding clergy sex crimes there. (In one Mahony deposition, Fr. Villalobos is mentioned 27 times.

In one of those cases, the victim said that shortly before Fr. Villalobos died, he also attempted to abuse his brother.

Born in 1962, Doe is now 57. His suit, filed in San Joaquin County court, seeks unspecified damages.

2) In 2017, as required by a legal settlement, Stockton church officials posted a list of ‘credibly accused’ abusive clergy.

SNAP contends that Stockton Bishop Myron Cotta must update and expand that list to include ALL credibly accused child molesting church staff – nuns, seminarians, brothers, monks, bishops, teachers, volunteers and other lay employee – and those who sexually assault or harass vulnerable adults as well.

3) At least a dozen Catholic dioceses (including Stockton) have adopted or are adopting what they call ‘victim compensation programs.’ All of them, as best SNAP can tell, offer money to some victims, but only if they a) meet a rigid deadline, and b) sign away any rights to sue church officials later.

These provisions exist only for the comfort and convenience of the Catholic hierarchy, SNAP argues. Bishops should not impose these ‘rigid and callous’ requirements on already-suffering abuse victims, the group says.


Bishop Cotta became Stockton’s bishop in 2018 after having worked in high-ranking positions in the dioceses of Fresno and Sacramento (where he supervised the Safe Environment Program, which handles abuse cases).

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant