Catholic Diocese of Sacramento Reacts to Pennsylvania Scandal

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SACRAMENTO -- Eighteen months of grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania have revealed seven decades worth of rape and molestation of 1,000 boys and girls by 300 priests there.

Grand jurors have pointed to extensive cover-ups by church leadership along with the abuse.

The faces of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento's past sins of sexual abuse include former priest Uriel Ojeda, who was jailed in 2013 for molesting a 13-year-old girl in her Woodland bedroom. Hector Coria Gonzales, a former Davis priest, was sentenced a year later for having sex with a teenage girl.

"Sometimes, to me, it seems like in the best places sometimes you have the worst examples of humanity," said Dixon resident Jeff Jones.

Bishop Jaime Soto says there have been no cases of sexual abuse reported to the Diocese of Sacramento this year. In 2017, priests in Sacramento and Roseville were punished for having consensual sex with adult female parishioners.

"It's a violation against their vows, religious vows, and it's not the way we want them to treat people," Soto said.

The priests were removed from ministry and sent for counseling in Pennsylvania. One has not returned. The other is now serving in a limited role as a hospital chaplain.

In a letter over the weekend, the bishop pointed out the independent review board of lay people as a resource.

As concern grows over problem priests being moved around the country, the Diocese of Sacramento relies on stringent fingerprinting and background check policies.

But faith plays a role here too as Soto relies on other bishops.

"We ask specifically has there been any allegations or accusations of misconduct on that priest? And in the culture that we're in today, bishops we owe that to one another," Soto said.

Believers feel they're owed as well.

"Hopefully the hierarchy will make some changes because I don't think the way it was handled is good at all," Jones said.

In its history, the Diocese of Sacramento has settled 58 abuse cases, virtually all of them prior to 1992. Three priests were responsible for 75 percent of them. Of the 58 cases, six were settled even though the statute of limitations had expired.

According to the Diocese, there is no priest currently serving in Sacramento who has ever been accused of abusing minors.

Since 2002, the Diocese of Sacramento has had a 24/7 hotline number available to help anyone report sexual misconduct by a clergy member. That number is 1-866-777-9133.

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