Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Thursday, November 4, 2010

Church Sexual Harassment Case Settled - Sex Abuse Victims Respond

Statement by Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, SNAP Western Regional Director 949-322-7434 cell

We find it sad and discouraging that church lawyers are using tricky legal maneuvers to escape accountability for the sexually abusive behavior of their employees. As a religious organization, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles should hold itself up to a higher standard of ethics and accountability, instead of giving a potential predator a "free pass" by claiming that they don't have to uphold the same fair employment laws as everyone else.

We applaud the brave woman in this case and encourage anyone who has been victimized to call law enforcement.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is

Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])

Church Sexual Harassment Case Settled
Updated: Thursday, 04 Nov 2010, 8:29 AM PDT
Published : Thursday, 04 Nov 2010, 8:29 AM PDT Posted by: Dennis Lovelace

Los Angeles - A former South El Monte parochial school employee settled her lawsuit that alleged she was sexually harassed by a church pastor.

Alma Burciaga filed suit in October 2009 against the Los Angeles archdiocese -- under its legal name, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles -- and the Rev. Antonio Esteban.

The case was scheduled for trial Monday, but defense attorneys filed papers three days ago with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu stating the case had been resolved. No terms were divulged and the lawyers could not be immediately reached.

Burciaga, who began working as a janitor and cook at the Epiphany Catholic Church school in January 2007, alleged Esteban spanked her on the buttocks when she walked near him and hugged her "in a sexual manner that was offensive" to her.

When Burciaga complained to a supervisor, the boss told her to "endure the harassment and hopefully in time Father Esteban would stop harassing" her, according to her court papers.

Burciaga was later placed on medical leave by her doctor. The physician gave her permission to return last year, so long as she did not have to work around priests so she could continue her recovery, but the archdiocese refused to reinstate her, according to her suit.

In July, Treu sided today with archdiocese attorneys who maintained that religious organizations cannot be sued under the state's Fair Employment and Housing Act and that Burciaga's claims should be barred under that theory.

A FEHA claim would have allowed Burciaga to seek a higher damage award, said her attorney, Antonio J. Gonzalez.

Treu said that Burciaga could proceed with her allegations under a civil rights violation theory, which puts a cap on damages, according to the lawyer.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests