New Lawsuit Filed Against the Diocese of Oakland

We applaud these brave survivors who are bringing lawsuits against their abusers and the Diocese of Oakland. Thanks to them, more information about dangerous men is being made public that can help prevent future cases of abuse. Now we call on church officials in Oakland to publicize this information and encourage other victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers to come forward and make a report to police.

One of the priests who was named in these new lawsuits is Fr. George Crespin, a priest whose name has not yet shown up on the Oakland list. That list has already been pointed out to be inadequate so this omission comes as no surprise. As late as 2004, the diocese of Oakland admitted to only 12 abusers. That list is now up to 65, and many of them were known to the Diocese then as abusers in the Diocese.

Fr. Crespin was the Chancellor of Oakland from 1979 to 1994 during which time he ran the sex abuse response team at the Diocese. Indeed, when Msgr Vincent Breen – who has between 50 and 100 known victims – was arrested at Holy Spirit Church in Fremont in 1982 for sexually abuse, it was Fr. Crespin who was sent in to clean up the mess. In this case, it appears that an abuser replaced another abuser.

On Crespin's watch hundreds of children were abused by dozens of priests. And as best as we can tell, not once did George Crespin call the police.

The other priest named in these new lawsuits is Fr. Stephen Kiesle. Notably, Fr. Kiesle worked under George Crespin at Holy Rosary Union City where both men are accused in these lawsuits, which means that every single child from 1972 to 1979 at Holy Rosary Union City was in danger. Another serial predator, Robert Freitas, also worked at Holy Rosary.

The "tri city" area of Fremont, Newark and Union City was lousy with sexual predators. Not one church in Southern Alameda county escaped the scourge of having an abuser as the priest. Many churches had more than one predator at the same time. Many of these abusers were serial predators with dozens of victims. None of them was ever turned in by Bishop John Cummins.

We call on Bishop Michael Barber to come clean and release all information he has on priests, nuns, and other church staffers accused of abuse. He should publish the entire list of abusers in Oakland or who lived and worked in Oakland and are known to have abused elsewhere. And we encourage those who may have information or still be suffering in silence with their abuse to come forward, make a report, and start healing.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has a website available for victims and witnesses to report clergy sexual abuse. We encourage anyone who may have seen, suffered, or suspected abuse at the hands of Fr. Kiesle, Fr. Crespin, or others in the Oakland area to come forward and make a report, whether by using this online reporting form or by sending an email to ClergyAbuse@doj.ca.gov.

CONTACT: Dan McNevin, SNAP California (dan.mcnevin@aol.com, 415-341-6417), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP California (melanie.sakoda@gmail.com, 925-708-6175) Zach Hiner, Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 517-974-9009)

 (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)


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