Diocese of Monterey, Palma School, and Damien Memorial School Sued Under California’s New Child Victims Act

Diocese of Monterey, Palma School, and Damien Memorial School Sued Under California’s New Child Victims Act for Sexual Abuse by Serial Predator Fr. Gerald Funcheon

Top Officials Knew Funcheon was a Sexual Predator Before Hiring Him

Palma Has Long History of Employing Several Clergy Perpetrators 

(Salinas, CA) – Wednesday in Salinas, attorneys from Jeff Anderson & Associates will:
  • Reveal and discuss the first child sexual assault lawsuit brought against the Diocese of Monterey, Palma High School in Salinas, and Damien Memorial School in Honolulu, Hawaii, under California’s new Child Victims Act (AB 218). The Plaintiff in the lawsuit was sexually assaulted by Fr. Gerald Funcheon in approximately 1984-1985 at Palma School, known to have regularly harbored several sexually abusive clergy.
  • Reveal and discuss that Funcheon sexually assaulted many children in several states, including Indiana, Minnesota, Hawaii and California, and has admitted to sexually assaulting at least 18 children, although Church documents indicate the number is at least 50. Funcheon was ordained in Indiana in 1965, and worked as a priest in several states and Germany before working at Palma School in 1984-85. Funcheon is accused of sexually assaulting several children at Palma High School in addition to the Plaintiff in this lawsuit. Funcheon, formerly a priest of the Crosier religious order, was incardinated into the Diocese of Lafayette (Indiana) in 1987. It is believed that he currently lives at St. John Vianney Renewal Center in Dittmer, Missouri.
  • Reveal and discuss that Funcheon’s clergy superiors received reports that Funcheon sexually assaulted children prior to Funcheon’s assignment to Palma School, and knew that he received therapy for his problems. Funcheon worked at Damien Memorial School in Honolulu, Hawaii from approximately 1982-84 before he was transferred to Palma. A parent of a student at Damien reported to the school’s vice principal that Funcheon abused his minor son while on a school-sponsored trip. At Palma, Funcheon was allowed nearly unlimited access to children and took several students on school-sponsored trips and activities after school hours. He abused several students during these activities.
  • Reveal and discuss Palma School’s long history of employing clergy perpetrators in addition to Funcheon, including:
  • Br. Jerome “Jerry” Heustis, C.F.C., who was the Palma School’s principal from 1976-82. He is alleged to have abused at least one student at Palma and another at Essex High School in Newark, N.J.
  • Br. Robert Brouillette, C.F.C., who was a teacher at Palma from 1964-68 and was named by a former Palma principal as one of the former school employees accused or convicted of sexually abusing minors. Brouillette has been accused of sexual abuse in Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, and Illinois and is alleged to have sexually abused dozens of minors. He was named in multiple lawsuits for sexually abusing children at Damien Memorial School. He was arrested in Illinois in 1998 for solicitation and child pornography. He was last believed to be living in Helena, Montana, and to be registered as a sex offender.
  • Br. Marcos Capistran Chavira, C.F.C., who was accused of abusing at least one student at Palma.
  • Br. Frank Luke Dalton, C.F.C., who was at Palma from 1964-69 and 1988-99. He was accused of sexually abusing a student at Brother Rice High School in Birmingham, Michigan. While in Salinas, he reportedly tutored, counseled and held summer camps for migrant labor camp children in the Gonzalez area.
  • Fr. Lawrence M. Spellen, who was at Palma from 1977-79 and 1981-82. Fr. Spellen also worked at Damien Memorial School, where he was accused of sexually abusing at least one boy. Fr. Spellen worked at various parishes and schools in Utah, Hawaii, and California. He died in 2003.
  • Discuss the historic California Child Victims Act (AB 218), a new law that extends the statute of limitations and provides a three-year window for sexual abuse survivors to bring lawsuits in cases that were previously barred by the statute of limitations, no matter when the abuse occurred or how old the survivor is.
  • Encourage sexual abuse survivors to come forward confidentially under AB 218.
  • Demand full disclosure by Bishop Daniel Garcia of the Diocese of Monterey of the identities, histories, and current whereabouts of all clergy accused of child sexual abuse who worked in the Diocese of Monterey.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020 at 2:00 PM (PT)

Hampton Inn & Suites Salinas
Steinbeck Room
523 Work Street
Salinas, CA 93901

The press conference will be live-streamed via YouTube and on Facebook.

Spanish-speaking JAA staff will be present and available at this event.