Legal action in sexual assault cases is on the rise as an increasing number of survivors feel empowered to come forward and name their abusers. In the Catholic Church, a large number of accusations against members of the clergy are bringing to light the widespread nature of this type of abuse at the hands of Church leaders. With repeat offenders moving from parish to parish, clergy members often spent years without any form of punishment until pressure from the public demanded change. While the Church attempts to settle cases privately, many survivors demand their day in court to hold their abusers accountable.
Father Carlos Rene Rodriguez was ordained as a priest of the Catholic Church in 1986 and was a registered member of the Los Angeles diocese. He began his service at St. Vincent, Los Angeles, CA. Throughout his years of service, he was accused of multiple counts of child sex abuse against minors, most of whom were teenagers.
According to news reports, Fr. Rodriguez was accused of molesting six children from 1984 to 1994 and was arraigned in court five times. He was laicized in 1998 after multiple convictions of sexual assault and misconduct against children.
Despite the multiple accusations against him, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles often covered up the claims, either by quickly paying the settlement fees or transferring Fr. Rodriguez to other parishes. In a lawsuit against the priest, the Los Angeles Dioceses also faced accusations for letting Fr. Rodriguez continue to preside over sermons and masses despite admitting to a fellow clergy member that he molested a 16-year-old-boy in 1987. The boy’s parents reported the case to the police, but the authorities took no serious legal action against him. Instead, the Diocese sent him to St. Luke Psychiatric Institute in Silver Spring, MA, for mental treatment.
In 2003, two brothers accused the priest of molesting them in the early 90s while serving at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in Santa Paula, CA. They were seven and twelve years old at the time. In 2004, the LA County Superior Court found Fr. Rodriguez guilty and sentenced him to eight years in jail.
According to the victims’ defense counsel, the Los Angeles Diocese was partially to blame for the priest’s sexual misconduct because it allowed Fr. Rodriguez to continue serving as clergy, despite his 1987 child sex abuse case. The plaintiff’s attorney also brought alarming accusations against the San Bernardino Diocese for failing to include Fr. Rodriguez’s name in its 2018 list of clergy members accused of child sex abuse.
Fr. Rodriguez was released on parole after four years and went to live in a private residence in Huntington Beach, CA. Meanwhile, he carried on his priestly services in the Los Angeles Archdiocese under the alias Carlos Ramirez but was later removed from the Church. He was last spotted residing in a sober living, transitional home in Bakersfield, but his current whereabouts are unknown.
Also known as the California Child Victims Act, the “look back window” gives child sex abuse victims and survivors a three-year window to file charges against priests and other alleged offenders. The law, which was spurred by increasing child sex abuse cases within the Catholic Church, also allows adult survivors to file lawsuits up to the age of 40. The look-back window is expected to close on 31st December 2022.
If you are a child sex abuse survivor, don’t remain silent at your own expense. Contact Herman Law today, and partner with professional lawyers to make your voice heard and seek justice.