Holy Spirit Catholic Church—Clergy Sexual Abuse in Los Angeles, CA

It is abuse when an adult uses their authority to take advantage of a child. Childhood sexual abuse impacts a person’s lifelong mental and social well-being. Most people who experience abuse as a child do not speak out until well into adulthood. If you’ve realized the abuse you endured at the hands of your spiritual leader, you are not alone. We can help you seek justice and closure for the abuse you experienced at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Los Angeles through a church abuse claim.

Clergy Sexual Abuse at Holy Spirit Catholic Church

Clinton Hagenbach was ordained as a priest in 1961 and served as pastor at eight Los Angeles area churches until he died in 1987. At least 18 men have reported that Hagenbach sexually, physically, and mentally abused them hundreds of times. The abuse occurred while they served as altar boys in Hagenbach’s parishes and schools between the ages of 5 and 19.
Hagenbach got close to the boys by helping them out when they got in trouble in school, or taking them for ice cream or go-karting on weekends. He took boys on weeklong trips in the desert to ride motorcycles. During these trips, Hagenbach gave them marijuana, alcohol, and candy that made them feel drugged. He had the boys sleep with him on these trips. He threatened them at gunpoint if they refused or wanted to reveal the abuse.

Hagenbach kept a “fraternity-like” atmosphere with his “special altar boys” at his home in the church rectory. Hagenbach drew in the boys with candy, soda, a gun collection, and dirty videos. He let the boys stay in his home while he attended mass and greeted parishioners. Then, he separated his victim of choice from the other boys, took him into the bedroom, and sexually assaulted him. The sexual abuse included kissing, touching, masturbation, and anal penetration. The boys who have come forward stated they were confused by the sexual abuse but accepted it out of respect for the priest.  Often as children, do not realize what is being done to them is wrong given their innocence and the perpetrator’s position as a respected spiritual leader.

Hagenbach also charmed the boys’ families. He helped families pay their Catholic school tuition. When he got into a motorcycle accident, the boys rushed to the hospital to be with him. One mother brought Hagenbach to their home to recover, even though he was no longer assigned to her parish. Hagenbach took advantage of the hospitality by abusing her boys when they were home alone with him.

The Archdiocese Cover-Up of the Church Sexual Abuse

In late 2001, one boy came forward with his story of survival. Shortly thereafter, he met Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who was the Archbishop of Los Angeles from 1985 to 2011. After the April 19, 2002, meeting, the church offered him a $1.5 million settlement. When his brother wrote the Archdiocese with his report of abuse, Mahony refused to meet with him, citing “legal obstacles” because of the impending lawsuit. In response to the brother’s report, Mahony had Monsignor Craig Cox reply that no one had reported abuse before Hagenbach’s death. However, this claim is rather dubious given that the Archdiocese moved Hagenbach from parish to parish throughout the years to eight parishes, including Holy Spirit Catholic Church.

All the details of the coverup and abuse are available in these documents released by the Archdiocese in 2007 after a successful lawsuit.

Boucher LLP: Helping Survivors Make Their Church Abuse Claim

When these boys spoke out in 2002, they were successful financial advisors, teachers, bail bondsmen, or firefighters. Still, they faced numerous personal struggles, including depression, severe anxiety, substance abuse issues, constant anxiety and panic attacks, difficulty sleeping, and nightmares.  If you struggle with similar issues as a result of childhood sexual abuse, you are not alone, and  you have the opportunity to get justice. When you reach out to the attorneys at Boucher LLP, we will listen to your story. You don’t have to suffer in silence any longer. We dedicate our practice to bringing justice and closure to the injured, including survivors of clergy sexual abuse. You deserve to tell your story if you experienced abuse as a child at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Los Angeles. Although Hagenbach died in 1987, you can ensure accountability for the Archdiocese and the church that failed to keep you safe, regardless of how long ago the abuse happened.