Mater Dei High School Named in Multiple Child Sexual Assault Lawsuits as Den of Child Abusers

Child Sexual Assault Survivor Breaks Her Silence, Shares Story for First Time Publicly

Diocese of Orange Sued Under California Child Victims Act for Liability and Role in Institutional Cover-Up

(Orange, CA) – Friday in Orange, courageous survivors of child sexual abuse at Mater Dei High School and attorneys from Jeff Anderson & Associates will:

  • Reveal and discuss two lawsuits brought against Mater Dei, a prestigious private school in Santa Ana that was home to multiple child sexual assault offenders throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and the Diocese of Orange for the actions of known perpetrator Monsignor Michael Harris and its role in the institutional cover-up of child sexual assault. The lawsuits are being brought under the new California Child Victims Act (AB 218).
  • Reveal and discuss how Mater Dei was one of several reassignments in Msgr. Harris’s trail of abuse during his two decade career in the Diocese of Orange and Archdiocese of Los Angeles. During his time at Mater Dei (1979 to 1983) he assaulted one plaintiff in this suit, and has since been accused of sexually abusing a number of other students. Msgr. Harris was laicized in 2001, and his current whereabouts are unknown.
  • Reveal and discuss how serial abuser Mr. “Bernie” Balsis, a lay counselor at Mater Dei in the mid-1990s, used his position to systematically target, groom, and assault numerous female students, including one plaintiff in this suit who will be speaking at this event. The current whereabouts of Mr. Balsis are unknown.
  • 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 Kevin Vann of the Diocese of Orange of the identities, histories, and current whereabouts of all clergy accused of child sexual abuse who worked in the Diocese of Orange.

Friday, December 27, 2019 at 1:00 PM (PT)

Embassy Suites by Hilton
400 N State College Blvd
Orange, CA 92868

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