Two More Allegations Against Oakland Priests, One Still Working
Two years ago, Oakland’s top catholic official promised that there had been no claims of abuse within his diocese since 1988. Despite that claim, five priests from the Diocese of Oakland have been accused of abuse since 2019 and yesterday we learned of two more allegations against Oakland priests, one of them still working. Now, we call for a secular investigation to determine the true scope of clergy abuse and cover-up in the Diocese of Oakland.
Our immediate concern is why the church’s zero tolerance policy, adopted nearly two decades ago, seems to be ignored in this case. Fr. Luis Lopez has been accused of abusing John Doe, a former seminarian, while the victim was a student at Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon. Despite the allegation, Fr. Lopez is still working at Corpus Christi Church in Fremont. We are concerned that others may be at risk and call on church officials at the Diocese of Oakland to remove Lopez immediately while the claim is being investigated.
Similarly, the other priest accused in this case, Fr. Ricardo Chavez, was also allowed to keep working after this latest allegation was made. Even more disturbingly, however, is the fact that Fr. Chavez had first been accused of abuse in the 1990s but the Diocese of Oakland apparently chose to do nothing. Clearly, the fact that Fr. Chavez was still working after that initial allegation shows that Bishop Michael Barber lied in 2018 when he claimed that there had been no claims of abuse within his diocese.
At a bare minimum, the Diocese of Oakland should immediately add these names to their list and Bishop Barber should personally visit each parish where these men worked, encouraging victims to come forward to police. But more importantly, these lies and lack of transparency must be investigated by local police and prosecutors.
We can only wonder how many other priests in the Diocese of Oakland may have been accused of abuse and had their allegations swept under the rug. It is time for Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley to step in investigate whether any laws were broken, determine how many children and parishioners have been put at risk, and use the power of her office to ensure that parents and parishioners in her county are informed so that they can keep their children safe.
(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)