California Priest is Accused of 8-Year Sexual Relationship

New York Times/May 2, 2002
By Anthony DePalma

A 31-year-old man said yesterday that the Rev. David F. Granadino, who is now pastor of a close-knit parish in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, cultivated a sexual relationship with him when he was a boy and continued it for eight years.

The accusations of the man, Jeffrey L. Griswold of Norwalk, Calif., are being investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Mr. Griswold said that after investigators wired him with a recording device he confronted Father Granadino in February and that the priest admitted the inappropriate relationship.

Several priests have been removed in recent months by Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, the leader of the diocese. On Monday, Cardinal Mahony was named in a racketeering suit contending that children in the archdiocese continued to be molested because he transferred abusive priests from parish to parish.

In the latest accusations, Mr. Griswold said that starting in the mid-1980's when he was a 13-year-old altar boy at St. John of God parish in Norwalk, Father Granadino regularly visited his house, at times on the pretense of hearing his confession.

Mr. Griswold said that after hearing the confession, the priest would take off some of the boy's clothing and spank, kiss or massage him.

Mr. Griswold's father had died years before, he said, and his mother suspected nothing.

"This continued for a number of years," Mr. Griswold said in a telephone interview from the office of his lawyer, Katherine K. Freberg of Irvine, Calif. "It felt awkward at the time, but I did not understand it as a molestation. Definitely, I had love for him and he had love for me."

Mr. Griswold said that in 1991, when he was 21, Father Granadino ended the abuse.

Last December Mr. Griswold notified the police, and a few months later went to see Father Granadino. In a conversation that was recorded, Mr. Griswold said the priest acknowledged abusing him.

Mr. Griswold said he had decided to speak out because it might not be possible to bring charges against the priest. Ms. Freberg said California law might not allow a civil complaint to be filed because so much time had passed. The state's statute of limitations allows exceptions, she said, but only if the abuse involves certain sexual acts.

Ms. Freberg has represented several men who say they were sexually abused by priests in the Los Angeles Diocese, including Ryan DiMaria, who last December won an award of $5.2 million against the diocese.

Don Steier, Father Granadino's lawyer, declined to comment on Mr. Griswold's accusations.

"In as much as we don't really have many facts confirmed at this time," Mr. Steier said, "I think we should just defer comment and let the investigators do their investigation."

In a separate case, detectives have questioned about 100 teenagers and their parents in Azusa, Calif., where Father Granadino is pastor of St. Frances of Rome parish. He has been accused of touching several children in an inappropriate way, including massaging their shoulders.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles gave Father Granadino a leave of absence from the parish in March. He remains in Southern California, Mr. Steier said.

Parishioners in Azusa have steadfastly supported Father Granadino despite the accusations against him. Several got into a fray with protesters from outside the parish who came to St. Frances of Rome last month to demonstrate against the priest.

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