Saint Bernard Catholic Community—Clergy Sexual Abuse in Bellflower, CA

Children raised in the church look to clergy members as spiritual leaders who can provide guidance and advice. Unfortunately, some clergy members use this power and trust to gain access to innocent children. They take advantage of this trust, and as “men of God,” their behavior is not scrutinized until it is too late—often years or decades too late.  

Clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is not exclusive to children, however. Parishioners of all ages may be susceptible to unwelcome, inappropriate, and illegal behavior at the hands of church leadership. Saint Bernard Catholic Community in Bellflower, California, has had multiple sexual abuse claims against clergy members. If you or someone you know experienced clergy sexual abuse, we encourage you to take a stand.

Clergy Sexual Abuse at Saint Bernard Catholic Community in Bellflower, California

Saint Bernard Catholic Community Church is located at 9647 Beach St, Bellflower, CA 90706. It is not uncommon for survivors to forget their abuser’s name over time. This can happen for a number of reasons, including the age of the person at the time of the abuse, intentional efforts to repress memories of the abuse, and, in some cases, never having known the abuser’s name in the first place. 

Even if you cannot recall the name of the clergy member responsible for the abuse, but you remember the name of the parish and approximately when the abuse occurred, you may have an actionable claim. Here are threeknown abusers credibly accused of clergy sexual abuse at Saint Bernard Catholic Community in Bellflower, CA:

  • Father Theodore Llanos served at Saint Bernard Catholic Community in Bellflower, California,from 1978 to 1979. He was accused of sexually abusing more than 30 minors from 1974 to 1994. In 1995, prosecutors filed a criminal case with 38 counts of child molestation, all of which were dropped because the statute of limitations had expired.  He committed suicide in 1997 at the age of 50. 
  • Father Denis Lyons served at Saint Bernard Catholic Community from 1964 to1979. He was ordained in 1958. Over the years, the Diocese of Orange has paid more than $4 million to settle clergy sexual abuse cases involving Lyons. In 1994, the diocese sent him to a residential treatment facility for eight months where it was concluded Lyons was not a pedophile and safe to be around minors. But additional survivors came forward, and Lyons was removed from ministry in 2002. 
  • Father Patrick Cotter served at Saint Bernard Catholic Community in 1961. He was born in Ireland but was ordained and served as a clergy member in Southern California beginning in 1957. In 1975, in the wake of multiple accusations of sexual misconduct involving minors, the Personnel Board for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles recommended Cotter retire. In 2003, he was named in a civil sexual abuse lawsuit filed on behalf of two abuse survivors.

These are three known abusers, but that does not mean there were no others. It takes courage to address issues of abuse. Many cases of clergy sexual abuse go unreported. 

The Effects of Clergy Sexual Abuse

Any unwanted sexual touching or sexual coercion is abuse. This includes lewd sexual comments or visual exposure. Any sexual interaction with a minor is abuse. 

Some survivors of sexual abuse do not speak about their experiences for years or decades, if ever. Emotions like shame, guilt, and self-blame are often what abusers count on to keep their victims silent. 

Everyone handles their experiences differently, but for many, the abuse has a lifelong impact. Many survivors have mental health struggles, such as anxiety and depression. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), those abused at a young age also have a higher chance of struggling with addiction, eating disorders, and self-harm. 

Seek Meaningful Justice Against Clergy Sexual Abuse

Though no monetary amount can wipe away the abuse you have endured, filing a lawsuit against the institutions that enabled or covered for your abuser can hold those institutions legally accountable and may protect others from similar abuse. 

The experienced team at Boucher LLP specializes in bringing to justice the institutions that harbored  or enabled sexually abusive clergy members. We understand how difficult it is to come forward, and we are here to provide support through the entire process. You have suffered long enough. Contact us to schedule your case consultation.