Sacramento Diocese removes priest accused of sex abuse

New sex abuse allegations involved two former priests

KCRA NBC News 3, California/December 6, 2018

By Vicki Gonzalez

Sacramenton, California —The Diocese of Sacramento is taking action following two new claims of sex abuse against two former priests.

The man who came forward said the assaults took place at Camp Pendola and Holy Family Catholic Church in Citrus Heights in 1985. He said he wants to be identified as John Doe.

The alleged abuse took place when he was 17 years old while on a camp work trip with former director of Camp Pendola, Monsignor Murrough Wallace.

Wallace is now retired.

“In light of the allegation raised (Thursday) by Mr. Doe, Bishop Soto has directed Msgr. Murrough Wallace, retired pastor of St. Theresa Parish in South Lake Tahoe, to withdraw from ministry until more facts can be gathered,” Fr. Michael Vaughan said in a statement.

KCRA was able to reach Wallace on the phone about the sex abuse allegations. He did not want to comment.

A couple years ago, John Doe said after years of counseling he was able to confront Wallace about what happened.

“I went on to tell the details of what he did, and as I finished telling my details, he was crying and he apologized,” he said. "I am asking him to come forward and tell the truth and help those suffering in silence."

The second sex abuse allegation involves a former monsignor at Holy Family Catholic Church in Citrus Heights. The priest has since died.

The diocese did not acknowledge the second priest in their statement.

"I have come to know two additional victims. One of each priest, both male," John Doe said. "I am coming forward and telling my story as John Doe because all of my family doesn't know."

His attorney, Joseph George, said there is not a lawsuit due to the statute of limitations. But, his client chose to move forward after the diocese announced they are delaying the public release of each accused priest until next year.

“Our diocese is conducting a comprehensive audit of all previous cases involving accusations of child sexual abuse by priests,” Vaughan said in a statement. “We are working with independent consultant Kathleen McChesney, a former deputy assistant director of the FBI, and we expect her review to be completed and the list released in March.

"We recognize that in past decades, horrific abuse of children and young people occurred in our diocese. In some cases, our response to this evil and our care for victims were not what they should have been. We are committed to confronting this past and atoning for it.”

John Doe said he was with the Diocese of Sacramento from 1983 to 1995.

"I still consider myself a Catholic. The last Mass I attended was seven years ago," he said. "I have tried many times to walk into a church. I get to the door and can't cross the threshold. The Catholic Church is as much mine as it is yours. It's shameful how you treat victims.”

The State Attorney General’s Office has set up a link to report clergy abuse. John Doe strongly urges victims to do so. He said it took several tries due to emotional difficulty, but ultimately it was a cathartic experience.

He reminds those who have yet to come forward that there are people who care and want to provide support.

“If you haven't come out and told anybody, start there.”

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