Bishops Robert F. Vasa (left) of Santa Rosa, Calif., and Armando X. Ochoa of Fresno, Calif., concelebrate Mass April 16, 2012 with bishops from California, Nevada, Hawaii and Utah at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. The bishops were making their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
The Diocese of Santa Rosa announced yesterday that it has
paid “a significant settlement” to a victim of the deceased Fr. Ted
Oswald, who died in 2010. A statement released
by the Communications Office of the Diocese states, "With this
settlement, there are no known abuse cases pending against the diocese."
Bishop Robert F. Vasa, who has led the diocese since 2011, expressed great sadness for the victim and for all victims.
settlement involves a lot of money. It does not, however, restore peace
and tranquility to this child of God. I pray this can come in time.
humbly apologize to this young person on behalf of the Church that
failed to protect them. I also take this occasion to apologize to all
victims for the harm done to them. This perversity, though prevalent in
all parts of society, was allowed to persist in the Church for too long.
Thus while continuing to be vigilant we must also seek forgiveness.
Those who have left the Church because of this scandal must be invited
again to believe the Church brings goodness, truth, and the light of
Christ’s healing presence and mercy.
“This requires the Church
to root out every hint of this type of perversity. This is a task beyond
human power. So while we need to maintain attentive vigilance, we
especially need to redouble our attentiveness to prayer and works of
“Finally, let me say this: The Diocese of Santa Rosa in
California has policies and procedures in place, but everyone in every
parish and school needs to cooperate with them if we are to ensure the
safety and well-being of our children and everyone else. Sadly, evil
will still occur, but it will not ever be tolerated.
me reiterate my heartfelt plea for forgiveness, recognizing that
forgiveness, however difficult, is necessary for authentic healing to
The money for the settlement, the statement notes, will come mostly from insurance reserves.
An article posted today by The Press Democrat
(Santa Rosa) and written by Jeremy Hay reports that the settlement was
for $3.5 million, "one of the largest settlements paid out by the North
Coast diocese in a series of sexual abuse cases that spanned more than
The victim's attorney says the large settlement was
due, in part, "to the church's failure to protect children from the Rev.
Ted Oswald, even though it was aware he had abused others." Oswald
molested the then-12-year-old boy in 2010 (the 65-year-old priest died
later that same year).
An August 21, 2013 SFGate.com article reported that "Oswald
was named in 2008 in another molestation case, which the diocese
settled for $1.3 million in 2009. He was placed on leave after the
settlement and died in 2010 at age 65." It also notes that in "the
decade before the first lawsuit against Oswald, the Santa Rosa Diocese
paid nearly $20 million to settle sex-abuse claims."
Bishop Vasa was appointed in 2011 to head the Diocese, which previously had a long history of liberal leadership; in the words of the National "Catholic" Reporter in 2011: "conservative bishop to lead liberal local church.
The Press Democrat further reports:
for the diocese's actions, it is entirely possible that this
12-year-old boy would never have been molested," said Skye Daley, the
Bishop Robert F. Vasa, who has led the diocese
since 2011, was on vacation Tuesday and unavailable for comment.
Diocese spokesman Brian O'Neel rejected Daley's assertion.
the diocese became aware of this most recent allegation, they removed
Father Oswald from ministry and reported the situation to civil
authorities," O'Neel said. "The diocese could not do more than the civil
A June 5, 2008, article (only partially available) in The Press Democrat appears to fully support O'Neel's statement:
HOMOSEXUAL ALLEGATIONS SHOCK LAKEPORT CATHOLIC PARISHIONERS
CA -- Friends and parishioners of Lakeport Catholic priest Father Ted
Oswald were reeling Wednesday from allegations in a lawsuit that he
sexually abused a boy he had befriended more than 10 years ago.
"Everybody’s still in shock," said Mark Thevenot, who has known Oswald
and attended his Masses for 20 years. Oswald has been saying Mass at
Saint Mary Immaculate Catholic Church in Lakeport for two decades. He
used the sermon on Sunday to announce he would be taking a leave of
absence because of the allegations.
The July 2010 obituary of Oswald, not surprisingly, contains no reference to the abuse allegations.
The Statement from the Diocese can be read in full on the diocesan website.