Molest suit: From Santa Rosa to Dublin

Arcata man, 38, identifies himself as boyhood victim

By Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Four men who claim they were molested by a Humboldt County priest in the 1980s have dropped their case against the Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa. But only so they can expand their target to include “an international conspiracy” that extends to Ireland, their attorneys said.

The new suit will take aim not only the local diocese, but the Archdiocese of Dublin and the Catholic order that treated the priest for pedophilia, attorney Joseph George said Wednesday.

The legal action will allege negligence, fraud and conspiracy against leaders of the three organizations that helped transfer the Rev. Patrick McCabe from pulpits in Ireland to California despite knowing his deep problems.

A 2009 report commissioned by the Irish government said the Santa Rosa bishop at the time, the late Mark Hurley, accepted McCabe knowing he’d been treated for pedophilia at a Catholic facility in New Mexico.

McCabe served as priest in St. Bernard Parish in Eureka from 1983 to 1985 when he was removed after a complaint he had children sit on his knee during confession. He then served briefly at St. Elizabeth Parish in Guerneville before being removed as a priest in 1988. Local allegations against him surfaced last year after news of his arrest. The 75-year-old is being in held in an Alameda County jail pending extradition to Ireland to face charges of molesting six boys from 1973 to 1981.

Greg Horne, 38, of Arcata, identified himself publicly for the first time Wednesday as one of the four men involved in the case. He said he was stunned and numb after reading about McCabe’s arrest and realizing his alleged crimes were part of a larger pattern.

When he was a boy, McCabe used to babysit him in the rectory while his mother worked bingo games in the Eureka church to help pay his tuition to Catholic school, he said. The priest took advantage of the time alone to fondle him and rub himself against him, he said.

“He knew he had a solid amount of time every single Wednesday and he could just take his time,” Horne said at a news conference in Burlingame arranged by his attorneys. “It was almost like a game to him.”

Lawyers for the Santa Rosa diocese claim there’s no evidence of misconduct in McCabe’s file and no evidence that Bishop Hurley was aware of it. Also, the statue of limitations for the allegations at the heart of the matter has expired. Claims of childhood sexual misconduct expire on a person’s 26th birthday.

“The Court of Appeals has said, ‘I don’t care what label you put on it, it’s a claim for childhood sexual abuse, which is covered by this particular statute of limitations and that statute has run out,” said Adrienne Moran, an attorney for the Santa Rosa diocese.

The attorneys threatening to file the new case blame all parties, including the Servants of the Paraclete, the Catholic congregation that ran the clinic that treated McCabe. The lawyers said the treatment facility should have done more to stop him from resuming pastoral duties.

“It really is an international conspiracy,” said Jeff Anderson, a Minnesota attorney who joined the four men’s team as one of the country’s most active lawyers in clergy sexual abuse cases. “We have a well-documented evidentiary trail going back to Dublin. We also have international movement of a known offender by top officials from several entities.”

George said the new case would be filed next month in Sonoma County Superior Court and that Anderson was headed to Ireland this week to speak with more victims and attorneys to gather additional evidence. He said the shift in tactics was to bring action against all responsible parties, not just the local diocese. Additionally, he said much of the evidence for the case is in Dublin.

Horne, who said only that he works in law enforcement, said he’s not concerned about winning money. He just wants to do his part from stopping it from happening again, which is why he reluctantly went public.

“There’s not enough money printed in the world to buy back what I had taken,” Horne said.